L I E) RAR.Y
ILL. HIST. SURVei
Alvin Louis Nebelsick, B.S.; A.M.
Head of Department of Social Studies
Township High School and Junior College
/v ^ '
This work is affectionately
dedicated to the Pioneers and
Progressive Citizens of Our
City of Belleville, Illinois.
This volume is largely the result of an inspiration for writing
acquired as co-author of two magazine articles, one in our state
professional magazine, "Illinois Education," May, 1937, and
the other in a national professional magazine, "Social Studies,"
February, 1939. I have discovered that there is an appalling
lack of information about local communities among the citizens
as a whole. I believe community interest should always be
encouraged. Surely we need not be reminded that the very
foundation of democratic government is to be found in the
communities and in the ability of the citizens to deal success-
fully with their local problems. To understand these problems
is a complicated matter so we must plan intelligently. This I
believe impossible without a knowledge of our past.
Our history is so much alive and growing that I find it hard
to see how anyone can think of it as dead and dry. History
always looks forward, not backward; it is dynamic, not static.
Out of the world of yesterday, the world of today has grown;
out of the world of today, will come the world of tomorrow.
It is impossible to understand fully the present without a
knowledge of the conditions which have brought it about; and
it is equally impossible to make intelligent decisions for the
future as we have only an uncomprehending view of the age
in which we live.
We are not only citizens of the United States, or citizens of
Illinois, but citizens of Belleville as well.. In the study of
"Belleville" we have travelled from the larger unit to the
smaller; from the continent, to the nation, to the state, and
finally to the city itself. This was not an easy task and required
steady application and untiring energy. My ambition was to
give a well rounded picture of Belleville from the earliest
day of our country to the present.
I would be ungracious indeed not to acknowledge the very
great debt I owe to those who encouraged me to write, and to
those who helped me when writing this book. Grateful ac-
knowledgment is due to our Public Librarians, Bella Steurnagel
and Maude Underwood, who were always ready to furnish
me with the desired books and newspapers and give their
valuable criticism and suggestions.
There were others who did not have ready access to the
reference shelves but were most welcome for their suggestions
and knowledge of local history as well as the proofreading they
did. Among these were William U. Halbert, lawyer and his-
torian; Robert L. Kern, editor and publisher of the News-
Democrat; Frederick Merrills, lawyer and secretary of the
high school board of education for the past thirty years; Meta
Stenger and James Clark, instructors of English; H. A. Kanzler,
instructor of Latin; L. N. Nick Perrin, Jr., lawyer and former
city attorney; Hugo Ehret, president of the Oakland Foundry;
Herman G. Wangelin, our past city postmaster; Oliver Muser
and Richard Hampleman, grade school teachers; P. K. Johnson,
St., lawyer and a former mayor of our city, and Herbert W.
Dey, a former teacher and now a successful attorney in Litch-
It gives me great pleasure to give public recognition to the
following students who were ever willing to help me with
typing and proofreading the manuscripts:
Norma Alves, Dorothy Ellis, Shirley Falk, Georgia Goepfert,
Milton Goepfert, William Hassall, Eleanor Hess, Wayne Kissel,
Joseph Krieg, Doris Malzahn, Robert Meier, Helen Moser,
Catherine Novoselec, Jeanette and Joanne O'Banion, Alice
Peters, Doris Schneeberger, Shirly Seiffertt, Lillian Sobcyak,
Shirley Stock, Walter Thouvenin, Gloria Webster, Rita Zar-
charski, Alice Kock, Jenrose Raetz, Ruth Newton, Alice Miller,
Charles T. Meyer, Joseph A. Johnson, and Margaret, Virginia
and Dolores Hirbe. Let us hope that the good work they did for
their city will not end but continue on into the future.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Three Foreign Flags
Claimed by Spain 1492-1673 1
Settled by the French 1673-1763 1
Ruled by the British 1763-1783 4
We Became a Part of the U. S. 1783 7
Our Indian Troubles 8
St. Clair County Created 1790 10
Illinois Territory 1809-1818 11
Illinois Becomes a State 1818 12
Our City Is Born
The Independent Pioneer 1 700- 1800 15
The Birth of Our City 1814 21
The Pubhc Square 24
The Log Cabin 28
Pioneer Dress 29
Early Social Life 31
Early Education 1700-1865 34
Early Doctors 1700-1901 41
The Pioneer Makes a Living 1814-1850 45
Village Life 1819-1850 48
Outstanding American Pioneers
A Distinguished Citizen 57
American Pioneers 1818 62
Noted German Immigrants 75
The Growth of Our City
Postal Service 100
City Water 104
Fire Department 108
Police Department 111
Public Buildings 1814-1942
Churches and Affiliated Societies
St. Peter's Cathedral 1814-1944
Leading Protestant Churches 1819-1944
Parochial Schools 1814-1951
Public Schools 1865-1951
History of Public Library 1836-1951
St. Elizabeth's Hospital 1881
Industry and Labor
Early Industries 1814-1850
Later Industries 1850
Present Industries 1837-1944
The Labor Unions
A Century of Progress
Culture and Recreation
Fifty Years of Progress 1850-1900
Scott Field 1917-1944
Our Part in War 1783-1944
Noted Places and Events
What Makes a Good City
How to Improve our City
Three Foreign Flags
Claimed by Spain 1492-1673
_ HE WRITTEN HISTORY of the American continent dates
back only four centuries, yet within that comparatively short
period of time, valuable additions to the world's stock of know-
ledge have been added.
In the opinion of archeologists, our area was the location
of one of the most densely populated Indian setdements in
North America, one of the largest being Cahokia. It supported
a greater population than anything Columbus had seen, but
only the ruins remained when the first white man arrived here.
Spanish claims to this region were, of course, based on the
discovery of America by Columbus in the year 1492. The claims
of the Spanish were further strengthened in 1541 when De Soto
landed in the Mississippi River area. His indefinite claim
included Illinois, since it was located in the valley of that river.
SETTLED BY THE FRENCH (1673-1763)
When the white men came to Illinois in 1673, they found
it to be the domain of the Illinois Indian confederacy of five
tribes, namely, the Metchigans, Kaskaskians, Peorias, Cahokias,
and the Tammarois. In our area were the Cahokias. The Tam-
marois lived a little farther to the southeast. They did not remain
here, however, for the other Indian tribes made raids against
them until ultimately, our Illinois Indians were decimated, and
THREE FOREIGN FLAGS
the fragment of these tribes found refuge for a time in the
The first white men to look upon the territory which now
includes St. Clair County were two Frenchmen from Canada,
Marquette and Joliet. Looking for a route to Asia, they went
down the Mississippi as far as the Arkansas; but when they
learned that the river flowed into the Gulf of Mexico, they
went back, and camped for a while in St. Clair County near
the vicinity of Cahokia.
The next Frenchman to follow was La Salle. He sailed along
the Illinois River to its mouth in 1679 and named it after the
tribe of Indians which he found living along its banks. It is
derived from the Algonquin Indian word, Illini, signifying
perfect and accomplished men. The suffix "ois" is purely
French, and denotes a tribe of superior men.
The first French settlement was made at Cahokia by Father
Pinet in the year 1700. Their predominant traits were their
lack of ambition, their sociability, their devotion to the Catholic
Church, and their tendency to eat, drink, and be mevTy. Being
amicable they didn't have much trouble with their neighbors,
the Cahokias. Their sociability was well shown by the way they
settled the county. They were never willing to live on separate
farms, but preferred the village where they were in close
contact with one another. Their meeting place was usually the
ballroom where came the priest, the patriarch of the village,
the jolly benedicts, the talkative patrons, the quick-eyed youths,
and the radiant maidens. Old and young, rich and poor, came
together in a common bond of merriment. Sunday morning
found every good Frenchman in church and the afternoon and
night in the ballroom. Hospitality and generosity reigned
A small but hardy breed of horses had been brought by them
from Canada. These horses had degenerated in size because
they had not been given proper care. The French worked them
THREE FOREIGN FLAGS
sometimes singly, sometimes in pairs, and sometimes one hitched
before the other. Reins were not apphed in driving, but the
whip of the driver with a handle about two feet long and a
lash two yards long was used most effectively. No one at this
time thought of having his horses shod. Oxen, yoked by the
horns instead of by the neck, were also sometimes used to draw
a plow or cart. These crude carts were made entirely of wood
and later Americans called them bare-footed carts because they
were without iron rims.
The education of the French was very much neglected.
Their handwriting was poor and their spelling even worse.
Most of them couldn't ^vrite at all but signed their names with
a litde cross. Since they were unmarried, the French govern-
ment shipped girls to Louisiana to become their wives. These
were nicknamed "Casket girls" because of the small trunk of
clothing the government had given to each.
Kaskaskia was settled in 1701, sixty-three years before St.
Louis was established. It is one of the oldest and at one time
was the most important city west of the Alleghanies. It was
the first capital of Illinois, had the first bell, the first college,
the first church, the first newspaper, the first Masonic Lodge,
and the first convent in the state of Illinois.
The first Court House at Cahokia was erected in 1716; it
also served as a residence for the man who built it, Francois
Saucier. It stood at the edge of the parade grounds then used
by the French soldiers who controlled the territory. It was a
proud building of square cut walnut logs chinked with mortar
and small stones, thirty-eight feet wide, forty-four feet long,
and eighteen feet high, topped with a sharply sloping roof of
In 1719, one of the creeks of our country received its name
from the silver ore found there by Phillip Renault. It was
assayed to yield $7.00 a ton. It was discovered near Lebanon
on the farm now known as the Jerry Bennett farm. He found
THREE FOREIGN FLAGS
enough to make a good living, but was later forced to abandon
it because of hostile Indians.
The Middle West has been, from its earliest date to the
present, one of the important areas of the United States. Sixty
years before George Washington was born, Marquette and
Joliet were exploring the Father of Waters. The year after Wash-
ington's birth, the important military post of Fort Chartres
was established. Fifteen years after his birth, a mill was built
at Prairie Du Pont. It is too bad these early adventurous souls
could not fathom the part they were playing in ushering in
the great surge to the West and the industrial and economic
changes which were to follow in our later American History.
RULED BY THE BRITISH (1763-1783)
At the signing of the Treaty of Paris, ending the Seven Years'
War in Europe, 1756-63, better known in America as the
French and Indian Wars, all the territor}^ east of the Mississippi
River except Florida was ceded by France to England; but
because of Indians and difficulty of travel, it was not until
October 10, 1765 that the British formally took possession of
Illinois. By this treaty, the French surrendered all claims to
the mainland of America to England. The French in this
country resented this transfer of rule to England and many
departed rather than submit to their new masters. With this
army of refugees went most of the French doctors, leaving a
free field here for English practitioners. The new doctors found
the going rough, since they were troubled with the same old
enemies— malarial fever and battle wounds— that had troubled
all the early settlers in this region.
Shortly after the Seven Years' War had ended, England
issued the famous Proclamation of 1763, a part of which dealt
with the Indian question. This document provided that the
land between the Alleghany Mountains and the Mississippi
River must be reserved for the Indians and that any grant in
THREE FOREIGN FLAGS
that section which had already been made to the colonists had
to be revoked. This proclamation was made to satisfy the
Indians; but many of the colonists, including George Washing-
ton, were frank enough to say that it was only a temporary
The difference between the rule of the English and the rule
of the French, from the Indian's point of view, all appeared
to be to the discredit of the new regime. The English garrisons
in the captured French forts were not given to fraternization.
English traders drove hard bargains, and the English interest
in settlement rather than trade was all too evident.
Pontiac, an Ottawa chief with far more organizing ability
than was common among the Indians, induced the other tribes
to join him in a conspiracy against the English to drive them
back east of the mountains. The attack began in May, 1763,
and the v.'hole frontier region was thrown into a panic. In
1764, tvvo strong expeditions where sent against Pontiac and
they easily defeated the Indians. In July, 1766, Pontiac agreed
with Sir William Johnson to a treaty of peace.
This, Pontiac's conspiracy, had hardly ended when another
great Indian war was fought here in 1769. Pontiac, the Ottawa
chief, had been assassinated by an Illinois Indian who had been
bribed by an English trader to do the deed, at Cahokia. In
this war the Illinois tribes were almost annihilated. While this
was taking place in our county, events of importance occurred
in other parts of our country. By 1776, Washington had already
served as a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses and
had married a \\^dow named Martha Custis. St. Louis was
setded in Februar)% 1764, and had a population of 600 whites
and 150 negroes. In the year 1770, Richard McCarty setded
on the present site of East St. Louis. In 1775, when Washing-
ton was named Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army,
the British regular troops left this section of Illinois. In 1778,
Cahokia surrendered to George Rogers Clark.
THREE FOREIGN FLAGS
Thus we see that all three countries, Spain, France, and
England had made their contribution to the birth of the state
of Illinois. They have all had some part in it, though it be
large or small. The master spirits of this voyage of events were
Marquette and Joliet, and to them and to their followers belongs
the credit of having disclosed to the world a discovery which
is second to none in importance and which had crowned their
names with immortality.
We Become a Part of the United States
\l2_>/uR WAR FOR INDEPENDENCE began in the spring of 1775.
In the year 1778, George Rogers Clark, the George Washington
of the West, with Americans and some French volunteers, was
sent by Patrick Henry, the governor of Virginia, to capture the
Illinois country. When he reached Cahokia, some Indians ran
to the village shouting, "the long knives, the long knives." This
caused fear among the villagers, but as soon as the French who
were with Clark explained their purpose, the Indians shouted
"Huzzahs," for freedom and America. The fort surrendered
without a shot being fired.
Partly as a result of this military expedition and partly upon
the basis of royal charters granted in the seventeenth century,
the State of Virginia claimed the region in which we now live.
On December 12, 1778, the legislature of Virginia created the
Territory of Illinois, and John Todd, an ancestor of Mary
Todd Lincoln, was appointed Lieutenant Commander thereof
by Patrick Henry, who was then the governor of that state.
The Treaty of Paris, 1783, granted us our independence
from the British and recognized the right of the United States
to the Northwest Territory. The change of government did
not seem to disturb the English inhabitants of this territory,
and for the most part, they remained in that region.
Due to the jealousies that existed between the small states
and the large states, over large western land claims, the small
states insisted that these land claims be surrendered to our
Federal Government. On September 13, 1783, the Congress
of the United States passed an act which stipulated the terms
on which they would accept the cession of this Northwest
Territor)'. On December 20, 1783, the General Assembly of
Virginia passed an act to authorize the delegates of this state,
in Congress assembled, to convey to the United States all the
rights which the state of Virginia held in the territory northwest
of the Ohio River. On March 1, 1784, the duly appointed
delegates of Virginia made their formal deed of cession and
on that date the United States officially received the North-
west Territory'. It included the territory bounded by the Ohio
River, the ^Iississippi River, and the Great Lakes. Today it
constitutes the states of Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio,
Michigan, and that portion of Minnesota lying east of the
OUR INDIAN TROUBLES
By the Proclamation of 1763, the English had forbidden the
colonists to emigrate into the territon^ west of the line drawn
along the divide of the Alleghanies. There was no intention
of keeping the Americans out of this region permanently, but
the English deemed it unwise to give the Indians further cause
at that time for discontent by allowing the setders to move in
upon their hunting grounds. The colonists, however, did not
take the same view of this matter. Some had already gone into
the West and hundreds of families, distressed by the high cost
of living brought on by the war, and eager to start life anew on
the rich lands of the west, were ready to follow. So, the setders
pushed out along the mountain trails and as early as 1767,
permanent settlements began to appear in the Northwest
At first the Indians in the west were friendly, but by 1786
they were beginning to change. In fact, from 1791 to 1812,
our government waged one Indian war after another.
Many of the disturbances were caused by the English, who,
contrary to the terms of the treaty ending the Revolutionary
War, had not evacuated the British forts in this section. Also,
prosperous frontiersmen, determined to possess the savages'
land, demanded that the government drive out the Indian.
In 1783, James Planner)', while out hunting in the American
Bottom was killed by an Indian. In 1786 Indians, attacking a
setdement near here, killed James Andrew, his wife, and one
daughter, while two other men's daughters, one of James White
and one of Samuel McClure, were taken prisoners.
Early in 1787, farmers, when working in the fields, were
obliged to carry their rifles; at night they had to keep guard.
By the beginning of 1788 the Indian troubles became more
acute. William Biggs was captured while he, together
wdth John Vallis, Joseph and Benjamin Ogle were walking
from Ogle's Station to the block house fort in the American
Bottom. Vallis was killed, but the two Ogles escaped.
The year 1789 was one of increasing Indian troubles for our
community. It was then that three boys were attacked by six
Indians only a few yards from their block house. One of these,
David Waddel, having been struck on the head with a to-
mahawk and having been scalped and left for dead, later
recovered while the others fled to safety.
With the coming of 1793 came more contention and alarm,
but the litde setdements had been strengthened at this time
by the arrival of some settlers from Kentucky. Among these was
a family named Whiteside, whose descendants still live here-
abouts. The Whiteside men and others, totaling fourteen
persons, made an attack upon an encampment of Indians, far
outnumbering them, at the foot of the Bluffs. In this skirmish
Captain William Whiteside was wounded mortally, he thought.
As he fell, he exhorted his sons to fight on and not to yield an
10 I NDEPENDENCE ESTABLISHED
inch of ground, nor to let the Indians touch his body. His son,
Uel Whiteside, with a bullet wound in the arm and unable to
use his rifle, examined his father's wound and found that the
ball glancing along the ribs, had lodged against the spine. With
great presence of mind, so characteristic of our backwoodsmen,
he whipped out his knife, gashed the skin, extracted the ball
and holding it up excitedly exclaimed, "Father, you are not
going to die." The old man instantly jumped to his feet and
renewed the fight shouting, "Come on boys, I can fight them
yet." Only one Indian ever returned to tell his people of their
The Indians, by 1800, were practically forced out of St.
Clair County, but evidence of their once having lived here
remained. Many mounds have been left in Illinois by the early
Indians, who built them as huge earthen tombs for their dead,
as sites for their buildings, or as ceremonial effigies. The
Cahokia, or Monks Mound, erected centuries ago by the very
early Indian mound builders near East St. Louis, is among the
world's largest earth mounds measuring 1080x710 feet and
100 feet in height.
ST. CLAIR COUNTY CREATED (1790)
In 1778, Virginia laid out a county in this territor)^ and called
it Illinois County. When this territory was surrendered by
Virginia to the United States in 1784, Illinois County was
forgotten. On October 5, 1787, General Arthur St. Clair from
Pennsylvania v. as appointed governor of this Northwest Terri-
tory. In March, 1790, he visited Kaskaskia. On April 27, 1790,
he issued a proclamation creating the county of St. Clair with
Cahokia as the site of the County Court. It was to include all
of the southwestern part of Illinois, and since it was the first
county created in what is now Illinois, St. Clair County has
often been called, "The Mother of Counties." The eastern
and northern part of our state together wdth a part of the
INDEPENDENCE ESTABLISHED 11
present state of Indiana were included in Knox County. Illinois
remained a part of the Northwest Territory from 1787 to 1802
when our state became part of Indiana Territory and remained
a part of it until 1809. Other counties were created until in
1818, when Illinois was admitted to statehood, there were
fifteen. The number has since increased to 102, all having been
created before 1860.
The first settlers to arrive in St. Clair County were not
foreign born, but they were 154 native Americans who came
to our county from Virginia in 1797. Among them were a
physician and several nurses. The journey was difficult and
hazardous. Shortly after their arrival, a fever epidemic swept
over the travel-weakened settlers and, when brought under
control, one half of their number had perished. Lack of suitable
equipment and housing accomodations added to their discom-
fort. Even the nurses, fearing the contagion, foresook their
posts and fled to the more densely populated eastern com-
ILLINOIS TERRITORY (1809-1818)
Under the Ordinance of 1787, the United States set up a
government for the Northwest Territory' in 1788 with its capital
at Marietta, Ohio, and appointed Arthur St. Clair as its first
governor. In 1800, Congress took steps towards the admission
of Ohio as a state and the remainder of the Northwest Territory
was set up as the territory of Indiana with its capital at
William Henry Harrison was appointed governor of the
Indiana Territory on January 10, 1801. His home state was
Indiana, and when he made appointments to office, he pre-
ferred men from his state. The result was that an anti-Harrison
party developed in Illinois led by John Edgar, and William and
In 1809, the Territory of Illinois was established. Included
12 INDEPENDENCE ESTABLISHED
in it were, not only the present state of Illinois, but almost all
of Wisconsin, a large part of the northern peninsula of Michi-
gan, and all of Minnesota east of the Mississippi River. Its
population in 1810 was 12,282, almost all of whom lived in
southern Illinois. Its capital was Kaskaskia.
ILLINOIS BECOMES A STATE (1818)
The historv of Illinois moved very fast indeed, for it had
been only a span of 145 years since the white man first came
until it was admitted to the Union as the State of Illinois. In
1673, Marquette explored the Illinois River; La Salle had
followed him six years later, building Fort Creve Coeur near
the present site of Peoria. Soon after, Fort St. Louis was erected
on Starved Rock, and at the turn of the century Cahokia and
Kaskaskia were settled by the French. In 1763 this area came
under the authority of the British, but the forces of George
Rogers Clark during the Revolutionary War took it for the
United States. It became a part of the Northwest Territory in
1787, Indiana Territory in 1802, was made the Territory of
Illinois in 1809, and in 1818 a petition was presented to Con-
gress from the territorial legislature of Illinois by the territorial
delegate, Nathaniel Pope, asking for admission as a state.
Through the efforts of Judge Pope, the act of admission
permitted the extension of the northern boundar)' to parallel
42° 30' north latitude instead of the southern bend of Lake
Michigan. A part of this territory was later taken away from
us and given to Wisconsin, but through the good work of
Judge Pope, who handled our bill of admission, Illinois kept
8,000 square miles, fifty-one additional miles on the northern
border, so as to give us a port of entry for anti-slaver)^ New
England, plus a lake front, eight counties, the greater part of
six others, and the city of Chicago. The act of admission passed
on April 18, 1818 and on December 3, 1818, Illinois became
the twenty-first state in the Union.
Kaskaskia was made the first state capital (1818-20) and
INDEPENDENCE ESTABLISHED 13
Shadrach Bond became our first governor. He had long
been active in public life. In 1806 he was the tax collector
at Kaskaskia. In 1807, he was the presiding judge of the
Court of Common Pleas of St. Clair County and in that same
year was elected the first territorial delegate to Congress.
When Shadrach Bond became governor, Illinois did not have
the necessary number of people to become a state, lacking
19,742 of the 60,000 population stipulated for statehood by the
Ordinance of 1787, Tw'O years of his term were served at
Kaskaskia, when it was decided to move the capital to a more
central location. The state records were put in a two-wheeled cart
and taken to Vandalia, which became our second state capital.
Chicago, known as the "Magic City of the West," was laid out
in 1830, and today has a population of over 3,000,000. How
it got its name is not known but we are told that in the Indian
language the word meant "strong." This is the reason some
people think it came from the wild onion which grew so pro-
fusely in that neighborhood; others think it was from the skunk
which was also common; still others say there was an Indian
chief named Chikagou after whom it was named. At any rate,
a map published in Quebec at that time gave the city the name
The length of our state today is 380 miles, its greatest width
205, and the highest point of land elevation is more than 1,000
feet. It is most hilly in the south and the northwest. It is filled
with natural beauty spots, such as canyons, gorgeous palasades,
caves, Indian mounds, and forests. Our total area is 56,400
square miles, of which 55,947 are land and 453 water. Our
population in 1950 was 8,696,490. The density of population
is 157 inhabitants per square mile.
Our official state bird is the Cardinal; our flower, the
violet; our state flag consists of a white field upon which is
a reproduction of the emblem of the great seal of the state of
Illinois in black or in our national colors; our motto— "State
14 INDEPENDENCE ESTABLISHED
Sovereignty, National Union;" our official song, "Illinois." We
are nick-named "The Cotton State," "The Garden of the West,"
and "The Prairie State."
Water from twenty-three states of the Union crosses Illinois
or flows along its boundaries. The rich soil of the prairies,
although treeless, is level or slightly rolling but extremely fertile
and has contributed much to our greatness.
Our City Is Born
The Independent Pioneer (1700-1800)
HE men who wrested this area from the wilderness were
the greatest of all pioneers. Their sons were among those who
later pushed still further westward seeking new frontiers to
conquer in the winning of the West.
The early pioneers were fortunate to have settled in the
American Bottom. This stretch of land, which is an expansion
of the flood plains of the Mississippi River, is located between
the city of Alton on the north to Prairie Du Pont Creek on the
south, and from the Mississippi on the west, to the Bluffs on
the east. It is about 80 miles in length, and 5 miles in width.
Its soil is the richest to be found anpvhere. It contains approx-
imately 288,000 acres, of which about two-thirds is located in
Madison County and one-third in St. Clair County. The soil
t)^es include loams, clays, and sands; and of these three, the
loams, considered best from agricultural stand-point, pre-
Traveling conditions on this land were terrible, especially
in the early spring. It was a pitiful sight to see a two-wheeled
French cart deep in the mire, the man going miles away to look
for help, the women sitting among the household goods, and
the team of oxen crouching down mournfully in the mud.
These curious two-wheeled French carts were built entirely
of wood, having wheels which were rimless, being nothing
16 OUR CITY IS BORN
more than huge cross sections of trees. The axles were usually
six-inch logs which fitted into the holes in the tree sections that
served as a wheel. The body was a frame resting on the axles,
while six uprights from this frame created the coach, which
was simply willow or hazel switches, woven wicker fashion.
Entire families piled into these carts. To lubricate the axle,
generous portions of home made soap were used, for no other
lubrication was available, however this made the wheels turn
The early settler had plenty to wear and to eat, but luxuries
were unknown. His food consisted chiefly of deer, bear, wild
duck, turkey, quail, squirrel, corn, beans, and wheat. The
nourishing food and outdoor life made him healthy, both
mentally and physically. He produced and manufactured many
things, and this made him independent of the rest of the world.
The American Bottom was a paradise for fishermen and
hunters, because the entire region was filled with lakes, sloughs,
and ponds. These were well fed by the back waters of the then
uncontrollable Mississippi River and during periods of high
water were abundantly restocked with thousands of fish. Legend
has it that wild swans, ducks, and geese were so numerous
on these waters that at times their combined quacking kept
early settlers from sleeping at night.
One duck hunter is said to have killed twenty-two with one
shot. It was a simple matter for a good hunter to bag a small
wagon load in a single morning.
Because of the early settlers' isolation, they had to make their
own implements, tan their leather, weave their cloth, hunt game
for food and sometimes fight for their lives. Most of them were
poor and lived very simply, but all were equal socially. Their
homes, clothes and food were nearly all alike, and this greatly
helped to make them democratic.
The homes were often located far from the fields. The
farming implements were usually of the crudest sort. Horse
OUR CITY IS BORN 17
collars were made by sewing together plaited corn husks and
were usually very easy on the horse's neck. Not much can be
said about the harness, as it was usually crudely made. The plow
was little more than a stick that scratched the ground. Iron
plows were yet unknown, and besides, they believed that iron
was not good to use because it poisoned the soil. The early
American, though, had ability to get ahead and make money,
was shrewd, was superior in practical things, had a very even
temperament, could easily adjust himself to tr)ang conditions,
and had the ability to pull up stakes and move on if his first
choice of land proved unsatisfactory.
The dress of the pioneer was very simple but serviceable.
He usually wore a leather or buckskin hunting shirt, leggings
that reached to the waist, shoes that were a compromise be-
tween brogans and moccasins, and headgear that was a coon
skin cap in winter and a plaited straw hat in summer. Men
who dressed in broadcloath and wore boots were viewed as a
curiosity. In the summer time, they often walked bare-foot to
the church, but just before reaching the church they would
put on their shoes. By 1820, the style of dress began to change.
Factory goods began coming in from the East and gradually
relegated the spinning wheel and loom to the realm of the
Women's jobs in the home were plentiful but not easy. They
had to be talented as nurses, housekeepers, seamstresses,
laundresses, hostesses, and when any possessed all of these
abilities, their lives were one great career.
There were few doctors, and illness was often fatal. Malaria
and cholera were quite prevalent and took many lives. Wild
animals were so numerous that they were a menace to domestic
ones. Indian raids were common and many lost their lives in
them. Prairie fires caused much damage and suffering. This
can well be imagined when sometimes sheets of flame, hundreds
of vards wide and many yards high, would sweep over the
18 OUR CITY IS BORN
In 1811, there was the great New Madrid earthquake in the
Mississippi Valley, so severe, it was said, that the church steeples
swayed, that the church bells rang with tremendous sounds,
as though some unseen demon was pulling on the bell cord,
that catde ran to and fro, filling the air with bawling, that the
soil cracked so deeply that the bottom of the crevice could not
be seen, and stone and brick chimneys fell to the ground.
In 1812, a great tornado struck this region. Families took to
their cellars, chimneys crumbled, log cabins overturned, and
fences and strong posts were carried away for miles. Many
people were killed and wide swaths were cut through forests.
Then there was the vear of the cold summer when the corn
crops failed throughout the United States. No record was kept
of the cold in the Mississippi Valley but in New York City
on June 7, 1816, there was three-eighths of an inch of ice on the
ground and the thermometer fell to 30 degrees.
Partly because of these dangers, the pioneer had a high
standard of morals. Theft, forgery, perjury, and the like were of
rare occurance. Drinking liquor was, of course, a phase of
social life that was carried to excess in some communities.
The making of the winter supply of candles was a special
autumnal household duty, and a hard one too, for the kettles
were heavy to handle. Early morning found the work well under
way. A good fire was started in the kitchen fireplace under two
vast kettles, each approximately two feet in diameter. These
were hung on a trammel from a pole, having been filled with
boiling water and melted tallow, which had had two scaldings
and skimmings. At the end of the kitchen or in an adjoining
room two long poles were laid from chair to chair. Across these
poles were placed small sticks about sixteen or eighteen inches
long called candle rods. If the candles were dipped slowly in
a cool room, a good worker could make on an average of two-
hundred candles a day.
The precious candles, thus tediously made, were carefully
OUR CITY IS BORN 19
preserved. They were carefully packed in candle boxes with
compartments, covered over, and set in a dark closet, where they
wouldn't discolor. A metal candle box hung on the edge of the
kitchen mantle shelf always containing two or three extra
candles to replenish those which had burned out in the candle
The American pioneer was perhaps not quite as religious as
was the French. His religious meetings were less frequent and
more irregular. The older people usually stayed at home on
Sunday and read their Bibles. Others would hunt, fish, break
horses, practice target shooting, or indulge in foot races. They
refrained from all ordinary work except such as was absolutely
A book entitled, A Pretty Little Pockethook, printed in the
United States shortly after the American Revolution, served
as a guide for childhood etiquette in many parts of our country.
It contained the following reminders: 1. Never seat yourself
at the table until the blessings have been asked. 2. Never ask
for anything not on the table. 3. Never speak unless spoken to.
4. Always break the bread. 5. Never take butter except with
a clean knife. 6. Never throw bones under the table.
The American pioneer, however, was always very friendly,
sociable, and ready to welcome a newcomer. When a log cabin
was to be built, the neighbors would come to help. Whenever
they made social calls, entertainment was in the direct primitive
style. The boys would vie with each other in jumping, wrestling,
running foot-races, playing leap frog, and shooting. The older
men would gather around and listen to some wild adventure
story of one of their neighbor's experiences to and from New
Orleans. Log rolling, quilting bees, and apple cutting bees called
together the men and women, while the youngsters met for corn
husking. Provisions for eating and drinking were liberally made,
especially the johnny-cake, spread and baked on boards before
an open fire.
After the meal, the younger people would turn their attention
20 OUR CITY IS BORN
to dancing. The table, chairs, dishes, and all things movable
were placed out of the way and the puncheon floor was cleared
for the dance. The indispensable fiddler was the artist of the
occasion, and everything had to be done as it was back in North
Carolina, or Virginia, or some other eastern state in which they
had grown up. The pioneer jigged, and danced three or four
hand-reels, all of which were very lively dances. The most
popular was the Virginia Reel. In the early morning all went
home, either on foot or horseback.
Corn shucking was one of the most popular forms of
amusement for younger folks. When the farmer's com was
ready to be shucked, instead of shucking it in the field as it is
done now, the stalks were cut and piled beside the crib. Then
all the young men and women were invited and the fun began.
Two leaders were chosen who would select sides and at a given
signal, the shucking started fiercely. When anyone found a
red ear, all shucking ceased for a time until the finder had
kissed the girl of his choice on the opposing side.
Another popular sport of the pioneer was the shooting match
in which the pioneers would bring their trusty old rifles and
spend the day testing their skill. The contestant always shot for
a prize, which was often a nice beef steer. Those that were not
contestants, came to sit around and talk. Old women came to
watch— they usually brought their knitting with them. Often
after the match, they would get a fiddler and have a dance.
The fiddler was in such great demand in those days, that some-
times the pioneer would send as far as thirty miles for one.
The early American also played cards, especially "Loo"—
requisite to gentility— and spent much time at horse races and
often squandered considerable money and property betting on
them. In 1806 there was a horse race on the ice of the Missis-
sippi River between contestants from Missouri and Illinois.
Some of the early settlers seemed to lack moral virtues. One
husband sold his wife for a botde of whiskey; the purchaser,
OUR CITY IS BORN 21
in turn, traded her for a horse, after which she was traded
again for a yoke of oxen.
At this time, 1799, several incidents happened in Washington
which were felt in our immediate vicinity. One of the members
of the House of Representatives from the state of Vermont was
a witty, red-faced and rabid Republican and Irishman named
Matthew Lyons. He and Griswold, a Federalist who was also
a member of the House, had a rough and tumble fight on the
floor of the House. Lyons, fearless and unafraid to say or publish
anything, had criticized in a Vermont newspaper, some laws
passed by the federalist government. For this and for the fight,
he was arrested, fined one thousand dollars, and sent to
prison for four months. Forty years later, after his death,
in 1839, the government returned the fine with interest
to his descendants, in the form of western lands. John Mes-
senger, one of the descendants, was given a 160 acre farm on
the old Collinsville road, which today is owned by a man named
George Hoffmann, a lineal descendant of Matthew Lyons and
THE BIRTH OF OUR CITY
Who the first white man was to set foot on the present
site of Belleville remains a question. It is believed by some that
French traders and trappers had passed through the woods
and prairie that now are occupied by our city.
It is known that in 1794 Reverend James Lemen, Sr., of
New Design, in Monroe County, and six other men of his
settlement camped here for a week. The camp was under a
large pecan tree on the spot where the old Presbyterian Church
once stood. They were on a hunting expedition as well as
looking for better lands to settle. At hunting they were good,
for they killed a bear, several deer, and many turkeys.
Settlements were made in the vicinity of Belleville, and
among the first settlers were John Teter, Abraham Eyman,
William Mueller, John Primm, Martin Randleman, and Daniel
22 OUR CITY IS BORN
Stookey. Roving bands of Kickapoo and Pottawatomie Indians
were often seen by these early settlers and many of them later
fought against them.
The original proprietor of the town of Belleville was the
pioneer citizen, George Blair, whose home, erected in 1806,
was the first to be built in this city. For several years he kept
it as a home and a hotel. As a man he seemed to have no
extraordinary talents, but he was prominent because he owned
a two-hunderd acre farm on which the central part of our city
now stands. Me didn't like to work on the farm and therefore
cultivated only a small part of it. He was not well educated,
but he loved to use words of great length even though they were
not suited to the meaning he wished to convey. He was good
natured and possessed a benevolent spirit.
Contrary to most opinions, Belleville was not founded by the
French nor the Germans but was settled by the Americans to
protect themselves against the French. Studying the map, it
will be seen that our city is ideally located, being about half-
way between the two oceans and evenly divided between the
North and the South. This places us far enough south to escape
the severe northern winters, while our four seasons offer us
a variety of climate. The Mississippi and its tributaries tie us
closely to the South and West, and the Illinois and Lake
Michigan tie us equally close to the North and East. Our
location is in the heart of the Mississippi Valley, one of the
nation's richest industrial, commercial, and agricultural districts.
This valley produces seventy percent of the agricultural pro-
ducts, seventy percent of the petroleum, seventy-five percent of
the lumber, and sixty percent of the minerals of the United
The greater part of our city is located in Section 21, Town-
ship 1, north of Range 8, West. It is situated on a gende rising
plain near the center of St. Clair County. The beauty of the
surrounding country is not surpassed by any place in southern
Illinois. It is not only equal to but even surpasses many of the
OUR CITY IS BORN 23
most fertile and productive agricultural regions of our country.
In distance, it is about midway between the Mississippi and
Although our city had not yet been officially designated as
the County Seat, there was nevertheless a strong desire on the
part of the early settlers for a more central location for their
county government. The county seat had been at Cahokia
since 1790, but this village being French, the Americans were
anxious to get rid of the unprogressive ways of these earlier
The Americans on the high lands east of the American
Bottoms outnumbered the old French setders along the Missis-
sippi River. This almost necessitated a more central location of
the county seat than was the village of Cahokia. This question
was one of the issues in the election of members for the state
legislature in 1813, which was then meeting in Kaskaskia. In
December, 1813, the legislature appointed the following com-
mittee to select a new seat of justice for our county, 1. John
Hay, 2. James Lemen, 3. Issac Enochs, 4. William Scott, Jr.,
5. Nathan Chambers, 6. Jacob Short, 7. Caldwell Cains. These
men met at the home of George Blair on March 12, 1814, and
the majority of them voted to build the county seat on Blair's
land. Blair, in return agreed to give them one acre of land for
a Public Square.
Up to this time our locality had been known as Compton
Hill, but when George Blair decided that he wanted a city on
his farm, he said that he had found a place where he was going
to form a settlement which might become one of the most
beautiful cities of America, and therefore he named it Belleville,
from the French word, meaning "Beautiful City." He appointed
a surveyor, John Messenger, to lay out the city in the summer
of 1814. This survey was completed a few years later by
Governor Ninian Edwards and officially placed on record in
our County Court. In the spring of 1819 the state granted
us a village charter.
24 OUR CITY IS BORN
The Streets were named by Mr. Blair. The most eastward
street was called Church Street, while w^est of that were
Jackson, High, Illinois, Spring, and Hill. North and south of
the Square, the streets were numbered First, Second, Third, etc.
The street extending east and west through the Square was
called St. Clair Avenue, but by common usage, it has become
Main Street today. Main and Illinois were laid off 66 feet wide
and all others 49Vi.
When the city was built, in places part of the earth was cut
away, while in others it was filled in. To the south of East
Main, between High and Jackson, was a pond of water that
extended well into High Street. After rains it was often 80
yards long and 40 yards wide. No trace of it is left today because
it has been filled in.
In 1814, the Court House was removed from Cahokia to
Belleville where it has since remained. In 1793, Saucier's home
had been bought by the territorial government for use as a
court house of St. Clair county which, at that time, included
all of North and Central Illinois.
In September, 1815, the contract for the construction of a
new court house was given to Etienne Pensoneau. It was com-
pleted and accepted by the county on September 10, 1817.
The population of our county was then 3,000, while our little
village had onlv about 150. We remained a village until 1850
w^hen the state granted us a cit)' charter.
THE PUBLIC SQUARE
When our city was created the Public Square was made
a part of it. It is over one acre in size and had been given to
the County for its use and benefit. On it later were built the
County Court House, the County jail, and the market house.
It soon became the civic and commercial center of our city
and became so important that all the early history of Belleville
revolved around it.
OUR CITY IS BORN 25
The first use that was made of our Pubhc Square seems to
be that it was an inclosure for stray cattle. It was on March
8, 1820, that the village commissioners, Ed. P. Wilkinson and
Cornelius Gooding, issued the following official order: "On
petition of sundry inhabitants praying that the Public Square in
the town of Belleville be inclosed, securing thereby citizens
during court from disorderly persons on horseback, and the
public buildings from damage, and the trustees of the town
of Belleville be authorized to inclose the same, letting streets run
around it instead of through it, and that this court allow a
reasonable sum for defraying the same." The petition was
granted, and the court ordered that the sum of $100 be
authorized to defray expenses. The inclosure was to serve as
a stray pound, to be inclosed with posts and rails, neatly finished,
and ordered that the clerk certify the same to the trustees of the
town of Belleville. It was in this inclosure where was located
our first Court House and Market House. It was here that
the housewives of the past haggled while at the market, and,
before the days of the state penitentiary and county jails, punish-
ment for crimes was here meted out. Here, w^e had our pillory
and whipping posts.
In April, 1822, William D. Noble was punished for forgery
by being put in the pillory. He was exposed to the public here
for one hour and was required to pay a fine of $1,000 to the
state and $1,000 to the man whom he tried to defraud. John
Re\Tiolds was the judge in the case, William A. Beard, the
lawyer, and John Hay, the clerk.
Two walnut trees in the Public Square saved our County
the expense of erecting a special whipping post. In the early
davs there were no jails, and the whipping post was the only
means of punishing a person for a minor offense. The guilty
one was first stripped to the waist, then tied to the tree, where-
upon the sheriff would inflict the legal number of stripes,
making blood spurt at every lick. The usual penalty was from
five to forty lashes.
26 OUR CITY IS BORN
One criminal named Bonham, a cripple, was found guilty
of stealing a black silk handkerchief and was given five lashes
for this offense. In 1833, Sheriff John D. Hughes was the last
to use the whipping post, for the state legislature repealed the
whipping post and pillory statutes largely at the suggestion of
Ex-Sheriff Hughes, who in 1836 had become a member of that
body. The walnut tree and the pillory, though, remained for
many years, and the latter became a respectable hitching post
for the farmers' horses.
Our Public Square changed in appearance with the growth
of our city. On it have gathered the successive generations of
our city. In July, 1852, the city council, under the guidance
of Mayor Goedeking, adopted a resolution that was to make
the Public Square more than a bull pen and offered the
following changes: "In the center shall be an inclosure of 119
by 90 feet laid out in grass plots and planted with evergreens
and shrubbery and surrounded by a pavement 14 feet wide.
The macadamized section of the square will still remain 56 feet
wide in the narrowest parts; at the comers it will be 100 feet
wide. The center place will be surrounded with shade trees so
that we shall have a shady and airy park."
On May 16, 1865, our City Council decided to change the
appearance of our Public Square once more. One group of
council members was known as the "tear-downers," because they
wished to remove the sturdy fence around it, cut down the
fifty shade trees, and destroy the beautiful park in the center.
Mayor Herman Burkhardt, who opposed this plan, had only
three aldermen to support him while five opposed him. To
them, it seemed as if the majority of the City Council were bent
on committing an act of barbarism, one which in future years
would cause the cheeks of the guilty one to tingle with shame.
However, the dastardly deed was done, and the mayor and his
three supporters resigned saying that it was impossible to give
sanction to such acts of vandalism.
The setback which our Square had suffered early in 1865
OUR CITY IS BORN 27
was only temporary, for the city soon restored it to its former
beauty. Once more it was adorned with trees, and in that way
it remained for many years.
It was on June 6, 1903, that we had one of the greatest
excitements in the history of our city. David Wyatt, a Negro
school teacher of nearby Brooklyn, Illinois, shot Charles Hertel,
County Superintendent of Schools, because he would not renew
his teachers' certificate. Wyatt was arrested and taken to jail,
but the aroused citizenry feared that a just and speedy sentence
would not be passed upon him, so they stormed the jail, took
the Negro from his cell, and lynched him on the Public Square.
The County Superintendent had not been wounded fatally
and soon recovered.
There have been many and varied surfaces that have covered
our Public Square. As a part of the old St. Clair turnpike, the
roadways were planked. Later the entire square was covered
with cedar block pavement, which bulged when the heavy rains
came and again went in place when they were dry. On July
16, 1904, it was completely paved with brick. It was then that
it took on the appearance that seems to be more familiar with
our present generation. All the street car lines terminated here,
and the bulky, brightly painted trolley cars stopped for their
passengers in what had been a parking space. Today it serves
the same purpose for our city and St. Louis bus lines.
The Public Square today is highlighted by the Veterans'
Memorial Fountain and is, indeed, a far cry from the old cattle
pound. The fountain in all its beauty does honor not only to the
departed veterans but also to those who in the past have built
the present city around it. It is today a nucleus of our commercial
development. In this area are located the four banks of our city,
the department stores, the large grocery stores, hotels, city and
county government buildings, wholesale houses, and, near the
outer margin, eleven manufacturing plants.
The Log Cabin
_ 'HE FIRST TYPE OF LOG CABIN built in St. Clair County was
the French or Pahsade type. In this the logs were placed
vertically and set in the ground with the cracks filled with
sticks and clay.
The next type was the English or the horizontal log type.
The pioneer chose the log house because it was the cheapest
for him to build, for there was an abundance of timber. Uniform
logs were cut the proper length and hewn down on opposite
sides to a thickness of about nine inches. Then the neighbors
were called in for house raising. The best axemen were stationed
at the corners, as notching or dovetailing was the more technical
operation. The comer men built up the walls by fitting the
ends of the log into the notches. By thus saddling the logs, the
walls were raised to a height of about seven feet. The chinks
left between the logs were filled with sticks and daubed with
clay, which had to be renewed every year. After the house
was up and roofed, an opening was cut for a door, usually on
each side to afford air in hot weather— or if a window instead—
it) was covered with oiled paper. The door was made of spliced
clapboards, hung on wooden hinges. The latch, also wood,
manipulated by a strap attached, was hanging outside through
a hole, and was pulled in to lock the door. The chimney was
built of stone laid flat and heavily coated with clay. The floor
was made by laying sleepers on the ground to be covered with
planks when obtainable. When not obtainable, puncheons—
EARLY LIFE 29
that is, one length of logs split in half, laid flat side up, were
used. No nails or other metals were used, wooden pegs being
employed where necessary. Usually a ladder led to the loft
which was used mostly for storage space. The inside of the
house was as simple and primitive as was the outside. A huge
fireplace furnished heat and means of cooking. To keep the
house fairly warm, the ceiling was insulated with wolves' skins
or other pelts or with the soft bark of bass wood. Light passed
through greased paper windows. The furniture was always
handmade. The axe and the auger were the best tools. The
table was nothing more than a puncheon with four legs inserted
in auger holes. Chairs were usually mere stools with three legs.
The bed was built in the comer with three of its comers fastened
to the wall and the fourth to a peg in the ground. Some who
were more mechanically inclined fixed the bed so it could
be drawn up and fastened to the wall in the daytime, thus
giving more room in the cabin. The eating utensils were mostly
of pewter and wood. While some early settlers had knives and
forks, most others did not. The pack knife or butcher knife
served all purposes at the table when no others were to be had.
With dippers made of gourds and buckets of hard-shelled
squashes, preparing a meal was a difficult task and required
many hours of hard labor.
Besides growing his own food, the pioneer also made his
own clothing and tools. Every home had its own spinning
wheel, for it was necessar)^ to spin the wool that went into the
making of socks, stockings, mittens, shawls, mufflers, and
wristlets. Their homes were poorly equipped in that day, for
there was no running water, no gas, no electricity, no refrigera-
tion, and the old back-yard well was about the only means
available for keeping foods cool, and preventing their spoiling.
Measured by styles of today, the dress of the early French
and English pioneer was very queer indeed. In the summer
30 EARLY LIFE
the men wore coarse blue suits, changing these in the winter
for clothing made mostly of buckskin. The women wore neat
fine linsey-woolsey dresses, made at home and colored to suit
the fancy with homemade dyes which were made by boiling
alum, copperas, and madder, with the bark of trees. Calico or
gayly checked goods were used in making bonnets. They had
little or no jewelry; even a ring was a rarity. Their feet were
shod in a sort of deerskin mocasin, while the men wore a
coarser and a much stronger shoe made of thick leather. French
women have always had a great love for things that are pleasing
and beautiful, and even at this early day they followed the
fashions of Paris and New Orleans. Blue seemed to be the
predominant and favorite color of both of the sexes and they
used it not only for their clothes, but wore blue handkerchiefs
on their heads in winter time as well, preferring this instead
of a hat, or a cap. Instead of a coat they preferred a sort of
capote, which was nothing more than a blanket.
The dress of the early American was, of course, simple. If
a hat was worn at all, it was usually made of homemade
material. Shoes were merely moccasins or tanned leather shoe-
packs. In the summer, many of these things were unnecessary
and at that time of the year, they often went bare-foot, and the
men wore a blue lined hunting shirt. The capote was made loose
permitting freedom of action, with a cap or a cape to turn over
the head. Usually underneath this garment a vest of striped
linsey-woolsey was worn. The later settlers usually wore home-
made shirts of flax or cotton, although a few wore calico and
checked shirts. Their pantaloons were made of deerskin, linsey-
woolsey, and sometimes coarse blue cloth.
The dresses in that day were made fuller and longer than
they are today, usually needing about eight yards of material.
These dresses were plain, with four widths in the skirt— the two
front widths gored, and the waist very short, with a draw string
behind and across the shoulders. The sleeves were enormous
in size and padded like a bolster above, but tapering to the
EARLY LIFE 31
wrist. These were called "mutton-leg" or "sheep-shank" sleeves.
They were kept in shape by means of heavy starched linings
EARLY SOCIAL LIFE
There were few people in the world that were easier to
approach and become acquainted with than the early American
people. Strangers, if they conducted themselves well, were
received most cordially in the best of circles, and the confidence
that was placed in them, upon even short acquaintance, was
remarkable. Probably this was due to the fact that there was
such a similarity of ideas on general subjects. Perhaps it was
democracy at work. In the social life of early days, dancing
v/as the favorite pastime, with the waltz, the aristocrat of all
of the dances, leading. Gallant men bowed low before their
Lady Fairs, their way of asking them for the next dance.
Women in the 19th century possessed unsurpassing graces,
perhaps more than are found in the young ladies of today.
They were taught to be modest and their mode of dress sug-
gested that they were so to the Nth degree Their finery of dress
and delicacy of manner inspired robust men of that day with
an over-whelming desire to protect them from the harsh world.
They seemed like delicate flowers, and there was a dash of
chivalry as the beau of that day stopped to kiss his sweetheart's
hand and ask that he might be her stalwart protector forever.
With music as the chief source of entertainment, it was only
natural that concerts and operas had a more or less universal
appeal. On these occasions women appeared in formal attire,
always wearing wraps called opera cloaks.
Then there was the Home Circle and the Pecan Club,
composed for the most part of the same young men who attended
the operas. These clubs were of a social nature, and for the
men only, but in their more formal gatherings, they also included
32 EARLY LIFE
the fair sex. The registers of these groups included such men
as Fred Daab, Louis and Dave Rentchler, Charles Eimer,
George AIcRogers, Charles and Hugh Harrison, and James
A. \Villou<?hbv. Socially prominent in these were such young
women as Emma Camfield, Lena Abend, Anna Rentchler, and
Fannv Knab. On one occasion the Home Circle entertained
its members and friends at an elaborate masquerade ball in the
Liederkranz Hall. Erected in the middle of the dance floor was
a fountain, the sprays of which poured out Hoyt's German
Cologne. As the dancers glided past the fountain they flicked
out their handkerchiefs into the spray so that they might carry
home the fragrance that permeated the air that night.
For the older generation of today there will never again be
times like that. Even in card playing and dancing the good old
days are gone. Around the turn of the centun.', euchre, whist,
pinochle, and bridge were inaugurated and the younger genera-
tion spent manv pleasant hours with this new pastime. The
old dances, the schottische, lancers, cotillion, and quadrille have
now been replaced by the tango, fox-trot, Charleston, rumba,
The automobile has taken the place of the horse and buggy,
the streamlined motor-driven train has replaced the coal-heating
iron horse, all maniacs for speed today. The older folks look
askance at the hectic scramblings of the present day generation
in their mad search for excitement and pleasure. They seem
to think that we have too manv automobiles going in too many
directions to too many places in too great a burr)'.
In the bv-gone days, the youngsters never lacked fatherly
advice. Regular lovelorn colunms were not unknown in the
newspapers of that day, and on November 11, 1864, Joseph
Billings wrote the following in one of the local newspapers:
"Dear Girls: A blessed future awaits you. Take lessons on
the piano at once as the pianos are getting scarce. By all means
EARLY LIFE 33
learn to play the new songs just out. When John Brown is
over it will be Father Abraham's coming. This stanza took
first prize at the State Fair. Don't be afraid to get married; your
Ma wasn't afraid. Learn how to knit puddin bags to put your
hair in. Be virtuous and pretty. Eat slate pencils as they will
make you spry at figures. Drink cologne water as it will make
a good smell. Let your petticoat drag on the sidewalk, and if
any man steps on it and tears off the rim, slap his chops at once.
If you have small feet, keep them hid as small feet are out of
style. Study travels such as Tom Moore's are considered first
rate. If you can spare the time, be lively and smart. Remember
one thing— there isn't anything in this life worth living for
but a rich husband; if you don't believe me, ask your Ma.
If you have red hair, you had better exchange it for black, as
black hair, they tell me, will be worn much next year. Don't
have anything to do with the boys unless they mean business.
If you don't know how to dance, you might just as well join
a traveling nunnery at once for you are played out."
Then, as now, the wedding was the most exciting event of
all. Guests came on foot, on horseback, and in wagons, to the
home of the bride. The wedding dinner was a veritable feast
for it contained four kinds of meat; namely: bear, venison,
wild turkey, and wild duck. Eggs were both wild and tame
while sugar was of the maple variety and in lump form. The
lumps were tied on a string which the user would have to bite
off for his coffee or whiskey. The syrup was passed in big
gourds and was of two varieties, peach and honey. After the
wedding dinner the people would dance until morning, the
music being furnished by the violin and guitar.
Shortly after the wedding, the men of the neigborhood came
together to build the log cabin for the newlyweds. Sometimes
this was completed in a single day, but could not be occupied
by them until after a house warming at which all the young
people met, making merry again until the early hours of
34 EARLY LIFE
EARLY EDUCATION (1700-1865)
Life being very simple, the settlers didn't feel the need of
education. So few were educated then that in 1790, when
General St. Clair came to this territory to organize a government,
he had difficulty in finding men with enough education to hold
such offices as Justice of the Peace, Constable, Clerk, or Sheriff.
Later, after the population had increased, the demand for
education also increased. The first teacher of the children of
the pioneer was the mother. She had perhaps been the best
of all— for she was the trail blazer of the finest educational
system of the world. For the girls, she still remained the most
important teacher because sewing was a very essential part of
their education. Ready-to-wear estblishments were unknown
and dresses, therefore, were not turned out as readily as they
are now. Sewing a dress was so complicated that the midnight
oil was burned many a night before the dress was finally
For the boys, however, the school master now became the new
teacher. Teaching methods in the early schools varied greatly
from those of today. Though the old methods are interesting
to read about, it is very doubtful if they were ever much of a
The first schools in our County were not the now familiar
public schools but were called subscription schools. The school
houses were rude one story structures, a one-roomed building
with a clapboard roof and puncheon floor. Windows were
made of greased paper and admitted the only light. A large
fireplace extended across the entire rear end of the room,
and on cold days a roaring fire of logs piled high sent
out heat to warm the legs of the schoolmaster, who usually
managed to have his seat in the warm corner of the room.
The desks that we have today were as yet unknown, but those
used then were slabs fastened up under the sides of the house
by pegs driven into the logs and these answered as writing
EARLY LIFE 35
and ciphering tables, while puncheon boards served as seats.
There were no fine maps hanging from the walls, nor a globe
in one comer, nor a Webster Dictionary in another. The large
blackboards were as yet unknown, nor were they needed in
that day as all writing was done with goose quills. In those
days when schools were private institutions, good manners were
considered as important as reading, 'ritin', and 'rithmetic. The
boy, when entering the building, would make a bow first to the
teacher and then to the rest of the school. A gentle and
affectionate curtsy was expected from the girls when they
entered. These things were considered verv essential for the
making of a polished lady or gentleman and anyone proficient
in these was considered well educated.
Studying in these schools was done differently than it is
today. Schools then were called loud schools because students
studied out loud. It was by no means rare to hear one pupil
scanning his spelling lesson, another one his reading, a third
singing out the multiplication tables, and a fourth, perhaps,
memorizing a poem. Ever}^ student was told to study aloud
and if his lips were not moving he was punished by the teacher.
Pupils today like to create a sort of sensation by bringing a
dog to school and letting it loose in the class room. In the early
days, though, students were disturbed by other animals. Some-
times the log cabin school was built on a stone foundation and
sometimes on pegs. In either case, the floor was always a foot
or two off the ground so that it would keep dr\\ When a stone
foundation was used, there were always openings for ventilation.
Hogs would sometimes wander under the buildings and their
quarreling and squealing and their occasional raising of a
portion of the floor would disturb the quiet of the room and
the peace of the teacher.
Corporal punishment of students was practiced to a greater
extent in pioneer days than it is now and was more common
in the north than in the south because in the south only slaves
36 EARLY LIFE
were whipped, while in the north they had no slaves and
therefore the children seemed to be the ones to whip. Then
too, it seemed as if it were necessary that learnin' and lickin'
should go together. Other less severe penalties were such as
kneeling on peas and wearing the dunce's cap. The teacher's
success was often measured by the number of whippings he
gave during the year because it was firmly believed that to spare
the rod would certainly spoil the child. The story is told that
one of the early teachers named Mr. Daily would occasionally
get drunk during the school day and when he did he would
vary the schedule for the day by whipping the whole school
so that his reputation as a teacher might be enhanced. Needless
to say, in his case the drinking caused him to fail as a teacher,
even though it bettered his whipping record.
The courses of study for the first three years were devoted
entirely to reading and spelling, and if a child could read and
spell an easy lesson without stammering at the end of the third
year, the teacher was regarded as quite a success. In the fifth
year, the children were taught to write. Teaching was simple
then. The teacher would simply write the entire alphabet on
the student's slate and sometimes his handwriting wasn't much
better than the student's. This was then copied and recopied
by the student until he had attained some dignity of perfection,
then began the old copybook writing. This was done with
pen and ink on lines that were ruled by the teacher with a
lead bullet that had been beaten flat.
In the fifth year of school the child began singing the
multiplication tables in their order and sang them until he
knew them by heart. Subtraction was more difficult, however,
and sometimes just had to be beaten into the student. History
and geography were subjects added to the curriculum in 1850.
The pens used by the students were quite different from
those of today. The making and selling of the pen and ink was a
financial sideline for the teacher as he always furnished this.
The pens were made out of quills of turkey and geese and
EARLY LIFE 37
the clipping of the quills took much of the teacher's time.
With use and often with the pupil's disposition, they soon began
to scratch. The inkstand was made of horn and firmly attached
with a steel point to the desk so that the student could not
easily spill it.
At this early day schools were still too small and financially
unable to employ janitor service, so the older pupils usually
swept and dusted the school room and its furniture. When
the fuel ran short— coal was not yet used— the older boys were
sent into the woods to cut enough stove wood to last for several
One of the early teachers in St. Clair County was John
Messenger, who had been educated in the east, and who
taught school at New Design in Monroe County, four miles
south of Waterloo and no longer in existence, and Clinton
Hill just north of our city. Others were Col. W. Case, and an
Englishman named Baker. WiUiam McClintock taught school
near Belleville for only one term. The reason for the only one
term was that the boys became too boisterous, and locked him
out for refusing the usual treat of a gallon of whiskey, candy,
and nuts at Christmas time. Being rather Scotch, he quit in
righteous disgust over this incident. Another early teacher was
a Mr. Brigham who was succeeded by a Yankee schoolmaster
named William Gallup. Gallup kept a very successful school
and often had enrolled from 80 to 100 pupils. His method
of rewards and punishment were a little more peculiar than the
rest. For the good little boys and girls he had a tin pail filled
with brown sugar from which the studious and well behaved
students, mostly girls, seated in a row, were fed from a wooden
ladle. For the rowdy ones he had the dunce's block which was
rounded on the bottom on which the unruly student had to
balance himself and as soon as he neglected to do so, would
fall sprawling and helpless to the merriment of the whole school.
For those that persisted in whispering, he had a split piece
38 EARLY LIFE
of hickory sapling, shaped much hke a clothes pin, into which
their tongues were put. Then with their hands tied to their
backs, the guilty ones had to stand in front of the class. When
the boys were stubborn and hard to manage they were made to
sit between two girls. This was usually a sure cure for the
younger boys, but today it would have just the opposite effect
on those a little more advanced in age.
The schools and the methods of teaching so far described
were known as subscription schools. These schools were built
by early citizens interested in education for their youngsters,
and therefore they were called subscribers of the school. Teachers
were not paid by these subscribers but were hired by them.
The tuition was paid by the students and could be paid in cash,
produce, or livestock. At one time when Mr. Gallup was
teaching he had on hand fifty young colts that he had received
for tuition payments and with these he carried on a lucrative
There was another type of school; namely, the private school,
established perhaps a little later than were the subscription
schools. These were owned and taught by their teachers and the
teachers were not free to come and go at will unless they
closed their school. The private schools established in our city
in their order were as follows: 1. Sinclair, 2. Belleville Academy,
3. Aristocratic School, 4. St. Paul's Church, 5. Southern Illinois
Conference of Female Academy, 6. Luthem Church School,
7. Kindergarten Private School.
The first record of any school taught in Belleville was a
private one taught by Mr. Sinclair in 1815. Although records
on all early schools are scarce, the next one we know of was
taught in 1823 by a Mr. Elihu Shepherd, a well-educated man,
who came from New York. The Belleville Academy was organ-
ized in 1821 and its object was to afford the young men
opportunities for higher learning. It was taught by a William
Turner but without much success.
EAR LY LIFE 39
In 1824, a Mr. John Dennis of Virginia opened a school
which did prove to be a success and it was called the Aristocratic
School. The Belleville Academy was located on the west side
of South Jackson Street south of Lincoln Street about where
the Jackson Street Methodist Church now stands, while the
Aristocratic School held its sessions in the Mitchell building on
the north side of the Square where now stands the Belleville
National Bank. It was patronized by many from here and St.
Louis. Mr. Dennis conducted another school in a small building
on South High which is still standing today at 304 South
High. In 1856 he was appointed a teacher in our public schools
and taught here until his death in 1869. His private school
had been the first in the state to teach Hebrew, Greek, and
Latin. The boarding school which he maintained at 304 South
High also served as his home at one time. One of his most
noted students was James B. Eads, the builder of the Eads
bridge. Here also were educated some of the boys of the wealth-
iest Belleville families of that time, all of whom, in later years,
were proud of the education they had received from the likeable
There were several other private schools, among them being
one that was maintained by the Reverend John F. Brooks, a
Presbyterian minister, and it was rather pretentious for the time.
It, too, was also located on South High and contained black-
boards, maps, charts, globes, and other equipment not found
in the other private schools. Another was taught by Mr. and
Mrs. Charles Edwards in what was then the Odd Fellows' Hall
located on the present site of the Lincoln Hotel.
The first step towards the establishment of free schools in
Illinois grew out of the enactment by Congress in 1875 of a
land ordinance for ascertaining the mode of disposing of the
lands in the western territory. Out of this, largely because of
the work of Thomas Jefferson, grew our system of townships,
one section in each having been set aside for maintaining public
schools. The first school districts in St. Clair county to be
40 EARLY LIFE
organized under this law were in 1825. Those created were
Cherry Grove, Turkey Hill, Sugar Creek, Ogle Creek, and
The first city school board was elected in 1847 because the
subscription schools, private schools and church schools, had
been unsatisfactory. Citizens met in the Belleville House in Oc-
tober, 1848 and there laid the ground work for the first public
school system in Belleville. Henry Goedeking, president of the
board, inaugurated the system, selecting the Odd Fellows Hall
(where Hotel Lincoln now stands) as the place where it should
be located and he saw to it that local craftsmen made the
necessar)' equipment. It was to be supported by both tuition and
money from the school fund.
The salaries of the country grade teachers as late as 1850
were as low as $25 per month for men and $12.50 for women.
The women then weren't regarded as good teachers as were the
men because they lacked physical strength, which was so
essential for keeping a good school.
When, in 1855, the Public School law became effective in
Illinois, the school association of Belleville disbanded and the
present system, state and district supported schools, began. Our
citv then had no school buildings of its own so classes had to
be held in rented quarters, and these were held in the Odd
Fellows' Hall, the Advocate Building, empty stores, basements
of churches, etc., some of which were poorly lighted and
ventilated, but cleanliness, comfort, and health were not so
highly evaluated then as they are now.
In the citv school board election of 1857, Phillip B. Fouke,
William Lorey, and William Erhardt were elected to serve on
the city school board, but all declined to qualify for their
position. Another election was then held and Phillip B. Fouke,
who had declined the first election, was named with C. P.
Ellis and Jacob Lehr as the directors. Fouke enjoyed the work
so much that he later ran for the president of the board and was
EARLY LIFE 41
elected. It was in this new system that two of our greatest
educators, George Bunsen and Henry Raab, came into promi-
EARLY DOCTORS (1700-1901)
With the arrival of the first white man came also the word
medicine. The native French word was "medicin" which was
gradually changed by the Indian and the white settlers until
we have the word medicine.
To the Indian this word meant mystery. Thus a "medicine
man" also became a mystery man. The first medicine for the
Indians was made of herbs and plants. The bark of the white
spruce trees when boiled in water produced a liquid which was
very useful in cases when the patient had contracted malaria.
The chief source of poison for the Indian was the toadstool,
and many a white man was killed by an arrow coated with this
poison. For relaxation and peace of mind he turned to tobacco
leaves. He was also familiar with plant oils and many of the
simple drugs which we still use today. A root which was very
pungent, and tasted like gun powder when crushed by the
teeth, was employed to counteract snake bites. This root was
generally masticated before being applied to the bite. The plant
from which it was derived had several stalks about a foot high
covered with white flowers. He also used another powder which
he applied to dislocations and open wounds. The percentage
of cases in which gangrene set in after being treated with this
substance was remarkably low.
When the practical methods of healing failed, the Indian
turned to his superstitions because the Indian preferred death
to a lingering illness and therefore the "medicine man" was
given only a short time to effect a cure. He would first advise
the patient to get as much sleep as possible and if this didn't
help, all the sick man's friends would dance around him,
chanting their weird rituals. Then the patient was given a
42 EARL Y LIFE
medical examination, a few oils and herbs, and the "medicine
man" departed. After the patient got well the "medicine man"
was given a feast as his reward.
The medical work for the French was done by their mission-
aries who cared not only for them but also for the Indians.
Thev administered not only the spiritual needs of the inhabitants
but the sights of physical suffering that they encountered
prompted them to acquire such medical knowledge as their
ecclesiastically trained minds could grasp. They practiced bleed-
ing, divine healing, and healing by the use of prayer. Their
methods were very crude, but proved to be a vast improvement
over the earlier Indian treatments. They were unskilled in both
the essentials of medicine and surgical methods. Their pet
treatment was bleeding, and even though the number of deaths
was very high they still believed whole-heartedly in it.
When the English came the practice of medicine seemed
to have become a profession. The doctors that serv^ed the people
would receive in return for their ser\'ices mostly furs or skins
which were valued at approximately twent)'-five cents a pound.
Although this form of exchange was plentiful in the wilds of
the Mississippi, still in some places they had considerable dif-
ficultv in making collections. In one instance a Dr. Renal sued
Charles Gratiot for the sum of three hundred pounds of deer
skins for ser\'ices rendered for amputating the leg of a visitor
in Gratiot's home.
The American doctor, besides being a practitioner, farmed in
conjunction with his medical duties. By 1840 there were three
prominent doctors practicing in Belleville. A Dr. Smith, the
first surgeon of Belleville, was favored especially because of
his courtly manner and elegant dress. Dr. Peter Wilkins Randall
was loved by the people of Belleville for his superior medical
knowledge, and he earned the title of "the best physician
Belleville had in those days." However, the most beloved one
was Dr. Adolphus George Berchelman, a German, who practiced
EARLY LIFE 43
here for forty years. His entire life was devoted to medicine
and ever) thing he did was in the interest of that practice. Others
worthy of mention were: Dr. Charles Woodworth, a specialist
in cholera; Dr. William Gale Goforth; Dr. William Roman;
Dr. Joseph Green; Dr. Wm. Mitchell; Dr. James Melrose; and
a Dr. Hancock.
Surgery has made its greatest strides since 1880 and the use
of anesthetics and antiseptics have developed since that time.
The old methods of numbing portions of the body preparotory
to operating were alcohol, h^^notism, extreme cold, or extreme
pressure. Special strong men were hired to hold the patient
down during this administration. Naturally there were few
operations attempted on the abdomen then and very few doctors
would ever attempt an appendix operation. At that time the
common operations were the extraction of gun shot, and the
amputation of limbs, although a few doctors were quite success-
ful with the removal of harmless tumors.
The practice of medicine had improved somewhat over the
earliest pioneer days. Patent medicines were numerous; in fact,
so much so that there seemed to be no end of them and each one
was guaranteed to be a sure remedy. Medical knowledge being
meager, there is no doubt but that many of these patent
medicines had only a psychological value. When our ancestors
took sick, they hurried to the drug store and there they
purchased some "bear's oil," warranteed ague pills, or some
"Ipecacuanha roots," quinine, morphia, red precipitate, cologne
water, Baterman's drops, lemonade powder, or croton oil.
Cupping, today a practically obsolete art, was practiced ex-
tensively in the early days. It consisted of drawing the blood
from the surface by use of a cup to relieve congestion. After
the cup was heated, it was placed firmly over the area to be
treated. As the air in it cooled, it contracted, creating a partial
vacuum and the suction drew out the blood.
It was often said that the early physician didn't always know
44 EARLY LIFE
what he was doing, but one thing was certain, he knew what
he wanted for his sendees. The city doctor was usually paid in
cash but the country doctor was paid in nearly ever)'thing from
cash to turnips. The fees were determined by the Medical
Societ)' of Belleville which had drawn up what was known
as a "Fee Bill."
Charges for such services as cupping, medicine, and mileage
were specified. This was given wide circulation so that all
patients would know the fee in advance. Some examples of
early prices for day services were as follows: (1) Visit in town,
$1.00; (2) Visit in country, SI. 00 for the first mile and $.50
for each additional mile; (3) Xight calls, double day calls; (4)
detention or unusual duration of visit, $.50 an hour; (5) medi-
cine per dose, $.25; (6) extraction of a tooth, $1.00; (7) am-
putation of leg or arm, $20.00 to $50.00; (8) attendance of
contagious disease, two times that of ordinary diseases.
Although small pox had been put under control many years
before, there was nevertheless a mild epidemic of it in 1901,
which was followed three years later by a severe one, in which
over 4,000 cases were reported. The main cause for this was
the negligence of the victims to consult a doctor early enough,
the public's misgivings in vaccination, and the refusal to
vaccinate even after being advised to do so.
In glancing down the years one sees that only seldom have
sons of our phvsicians followed in the footsteps of their fathers.
There are only a few cases where it did occur. Dr. Hugo E.
Wangelin has been ably followed by his son, Dr. Evans H.
Wangelin. Dr. B. E. Twitchell by his son, Standlee. Dr. Louis
J. Bechtold, for many years one of Belleville's leading physicians,
has been ably succeeded by his tw^o sons, August and Edmond,
and the latter, by his son John, thus making three generations
of doctors. Besides these there was the late Dr. \Vashington
West, Sr., whose son, Washington West, Jr., until his death,
was one of the town's best physicians and surgeons.
EARLY LIFE 45
Our physicians today are C. E. Baldree, G. L. Bauer, Charles
Bauman, J. D. Belleville, Arthur R. Brownlie, Arthur A. Clyne,
Irvin W. Davis, Herbert Dexheimer, W. F. Haines, Jack T.
Haskins, R. C. Heiligenstein, R. J. Joseph, Raymond J. Kaye,
H. L. Lange, Everett Lanmann, J. J. McCullough, C. L. Martin,
George E. Meyer, Jos. H. Needles, Paul Norbet, G. C. Otrich,
C. P. Renner, Fred Rose, Wm. F. Rose, L. W. Roth, A. R.
Sintzel, Standlee Tvvitchel, W. H. Walton, J. E. Wheeler,
Charles O. White, and C. S. Wilson. Our dentists are Arthur
Beske, L. A. Bischoff, H. A. Brethauer, C. R. Conroy, N. H.
Feder, C. R. Hough, R. M. Isselhard, Fred Jaeckel, Wallace
C. Karstens, John D. Kubitschek, F. M. Kuhn, I. A. Leunig,
St., I. A. Leunig, Jr. G. R. Martin, Francis W. Nesbit, F. A.
iNeuhoff, F. A. Ochs, E. L. Rauth, D. R. Robertson, A. D.
Schilling, M. W. Wagner, C. L. Wilbret, M. E. Wilbret,
M. N. Wilderman and T. J. Winkler.
THE PIONEER MAKES A LIVING (1814-1850)
As the tide of development of our country surged westward,
this community had farms such as could be found only in a
few places in the world. The land of the eastern farmer had
been poor and rocky and a new farm in this particular location
was the dream of the impoverished peasant of Europe, as well
as the salvation of the easterner that settled here.
The American Indian was the first to own this land. His
title to it was no better than ours; namely, occupancy and use
of the soil. When the white man came to till this land, the first
plowing was difficult, yet it was a stirring experience for every
pioneer. Terrifying stories were often told of snakes scampering
in all directions at the approach of the plow and of the
unbelievably large numbers that were killed before the first
crop was harvested. Oxen were frequently bitten by them and
the pioneers, often bare-footed, had to be on constant alert so
as not to startle the reptiles, and meet a similar fate.
46 E ARLY LIFE
The gardens of about 100 years ago would surprise some of
us today. Planting activities always began in the home and here
the littfe flower and garden plants remained in their litde boxes
until it was warm enough for transplanting out of doors.
To be sure, no pioneer starved to death, but he had to work
hard to eke out a mere existence. One of the regular tasks was
the making of com meal, which was usually done on a grater
in the form of a piece of tin, bent in an arc, on which an ear
of corn was rubbed. This took quite a bit of time and effort
to get enough meal for a loaf of bread.
Some wheat was also raised and when the farmers flailed it
out by hand it came out clean, but when it was tramped out
by horses, many of our earlier citizens contended the biscuits
made from it did not exacdy have a true biscuit flavor. By 1840
our community probably produced more stock and grain than
any other community of equal size in the Northwest Territory.
Some of the lesser crops cultivated by the farmers hereabouts
were cotton, sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes, and garden crops.
The cotton was cultivated, picked, separated from the lint, and
manufactured into cloth by hand. The first cotton gin in
operation in Belleville was built by Thomas Harrison, and this
was quite an improvement, for it made the work much easier.
Other crops raised by the farmers were much smaller in
proportion than they are today. Very little wheat was grown,
for the demand then wasn't great, nor were there mills to grind
or bolt the flour. Han^esting too, was difficult because there
was no machinery, only the sickle and the reaping hook. Later
the cradle was invented and this was such a great step forward
that it was believed impossible to ever improve upon it. No one
had ever dreamed of a reaper or a combine.
It was not always necessary to fatten hogs with com for in
that day oak trees were numerous and these produced an
abundant crop of acorns that fattened hogs so much cheaper.
EARLY LIFE 47
Corn for fattening hogs was used sparingly because it had to
be used in making hquor and Johnny-cakes and then, too,
corn-fed hogs produced a fat that was both sweet and oily.
In the fall of the year, when the days were cool and clear, great
supplies of apples, pears, and peaches could be seen on the
roofs of sheds in the rear of the yards. These were being dried
so they would keep and could be served as fruit in the long
Business conditions during the war with England in 1812
had taxed the productive energies of the people severely, and its
boom was felt everywhere. A general scarcity of money was
noted later in all business centers and business in 1816 became
stagnant. Streets were overgrown with offensive weeds. All
prices declined. A good cow brought $6.00 a head, a good horse
brought $40.00, and fattened hogs, $1.50 a hundred weight.
Whole fields of corn were often sold for 7 cents a bushel taken
as it stood in the field. The number of bushels was usually
estimated by the number of rows.
Remedies of course, were attempted to cure this depression.
The National government believed in a "hands off" policy, but
the state government resorted to various means. It passed
bankruptcy acts, stay laws, and brought into existence state
banks. These banks proved a boom. Our county was also anxious
to do its part to rid us of the depression and in 1817 the county
government paid from $.50 to $2.00 for wolf scalps, the price
varying in accordance with age and size of the animal.
Due to hard times that followed the War of 1812, the pioneer,
especially in the West, resorted to bartering. There was a
scarcity of money and that brought about counterfeiting. Much
of the money in circulation at that time was of dubious
character. Law enforcement was poorly organized in the pion-
eer's days and therefore citizens often had to take it upon
themselves to enforce the law. When this was done it was called
taking cases to Judge Lynch's court. Counterfeit notes were so
48 EARLY LIFE
numerous that in 1815, a company with Dr. Estes as captain,
was formed to promptly mete out "lynch justice" at a place near
Silver Creek. This was so effective that the offenders soon fled
and counterfeit money disappeared.
VILLAGE LIFE (1814-1850)
In the year 1818, Mr. George Blair, owner of the land on
which Belleville was built, sold all of his interests to Mr.
Etienne Pensoneau, a French Canadian who could barely
speak English. Pensoneau, a wealthy slave owner, conducted
a dry goods store located near the Richland Creek but all his
wealth and prestige contributed nothing to the growth of the
Ninian Edwards, the first governor of the Illinois Territory,
bought out Pensoneau in 1818. No individual in Illinois was
better qualified to lift Belleville out of the stagnation into which
it had fallen than was Mr. Edwards. He possessed both wealth
and talent, and being very ambitious to increase his own fortune,
never permitted an honorable occasion to escape when he
could make money. He was an accomplished orator, a classical
scholar, and possessed a very fine library, which he used
extensively to further his own education.
In February, 1819, there occurred one of the most lamentable
incidents in the history of our city: the duel in which Alphonso
C. Stuart was killed by Timothy Bennett. A horse, owned by
Bennett, had the habit of breaking loose and straying in the
neighboring field, which belonged to Stuart. On one occasion
one of the men working for Stuart peppered it with beans.
This greatly angered Bennett. When he told his friends Jacob
Short and Nathan Fike about it, they suggested it would be
sport to have him challenge Stuart to a sham duel, to which
Bennett agreed. The preliminaries were all arranged in the old
Tannehill Hotel that stood on the corner where now stands the
National Hotel. The rifles were to be loaded with powder
EARLY LIFE 49
only, but just before starting to the grounds where the duel
was to be tought, Bennett stepped into an alley and rammed
a ball down his rifle. This was seen by Miss Raechel Tannehill,
later Mrs. Rader, whose testimony at Bennett's trial greatly
influenced the outcome, which was a verdict of guilty of murder.
The duel was fought just south of our present Turner Hall,
on February 8, 1819, with Nathan Fike and Jacob Short acting
as seconds. When all were ready, the principals were placed
thirty yards apart and told to await the signal to fire, but Bennett
fired before the signal was given. His aim was accurate, and
Stuart fell mortally wounded.
Bennett, Fike, and Short were at once arrested, and Bennett
was confined to the County Jail. From this he escaped but two
years later was recaptured, tried, found guilty of murder, and
on September 3, 1821, he was hanged in a large field located
at about the 1200 block on West Main Street. The trial had
been the most celebrated and exciting event that had ever
occurred in St. Clair County. Such notables as Judge John
Reynolds, Prosecuting Attorney Daniel P. Cook, and Defense
Attorney Thomas Hart Benton, a U. S. senator from Missouri,
took part in it.
The original streets of Belleville were mere paths through
corn fields. Their extended lengths and improved condition
have been an accurate guage of the city's growth. As late as
June, 1843, the streets were still in their natural condition.
In wet weather they were almost impassable because of the
deep, sticky mud. In dry weather they were covered with
a deep layer of dust.
The first general store in our city was built by Joseph Kerr
and was located near Chapman's Mill. The general stores,
however, were not as interesting as the early grocery stores and
of these a wealth of legends has been handed down. Old time
stores sold "from the barrel," and "out of the box." Package
goods were not thought of, and one can imagine what a peculiar
50 EARLY LIFE
mixture of taste and odor resulted when the dried apple barrel
happened to stand near the herring barrel. Grocers did not
always remove pickle or herring juice from their hands but
went with dripping fingers into the cracker box. There were
no deliveries. It was up to the customer to take his purchases
home. Even as recent as Civil War days, there was not a
business house in the city that had a delivery wagon. It was
cash and carry on a rigid basis. The objection to delivery
services was mostly that it would take all the profits. They raged
at the newspaper editors, who dared talk of delivery wagons.
The first firm to get one of these was the Hartman Brothers,
when they opened a new store at Main and Church streets.
The owners, as well as the community, were proud of this neatly
painted free delivery wagon.
Self service, as practiced today, was not yet thought of and
would have entailed the services of a detective and a weight
lifter. The grocer had it somewhere, but it was so well hidden
from the customer that only the grocer and God, and sometimes
only God, knew where.
The list of items sold in the early days were long and varied
and included such things as these: brimstone (now sulphur), old
monganhela whiskey, percussion caps, sperm candles, lead shot,
saleratus (baking soda), New Orleans loaf sugar, raw coffee
beans, Boston nails, paper, tobacco, salted fish, spices, raisins,
rectified whiskey, malaga wine, epsom salts, sperm, star, and
Early travel was slow, difficult, and very uncomfortable.
Stopping places for travelers were less numerous than today
but Belleville at that time boasted of three very modern hotels.
They were all equipped with livery stables, much in the manner
that the present day hotels provide garages for the cars of the
At that time too, there seems to have been price regulation.
In 1808, the County Court ordered the rates for hotels to be
EARLY LIFE 51
as follows: meals, twenty-five cents; one half pint whiskey,
twelve and one-half cents; bedding, twelve and one-half cents;
French brandy or rum, twelve and one-half cents; stabling per
day, fifty cents.
The first hotel was built by James Tannehill on the south
side of West Main right next to the Public Square, where
the National Hotel was erected in 1857 and still stands.
His hotel had a main building that was two stories high but
additions and sub-additions later gave it the appearance of a
To induce the guests to pay their bills when due, hotel
managers sometimes gave special rates for advanced payment.
Regular board with lodging if paid in advance, two dollars per
week; regular board with lodging if paid at close of week, two
dollars and fifty cents; regular board without lodging if paid
in advance, one dollar and fifty cents; regular board without
lodging if paid at close of week, two dollars; board single day,
seventy-five cents; single meal for a man and one feed for
horse, forty cents; the last being the most interesting of the
The Mansion House was located on the comer of Main and
High Streets where the Lincoln Theatre now stands. It was
built in 1825 and was razed in 1919. The present theatre is
marked with a plaque reminding us that the Mansion House
once stood there and was host once to Charles Dickens, who
mentions it in his American Notes.
The Franklin Boarding House, kept by P. K. Fleming on the
north side of East Main Street between the Public Square
and High Street directly over the John Murray store advertised
as follows: "Regular boarders and travelers on horseback, or
in carriages, accommodated on the usual terms. All horses will
be well taken care of and no exertion will be spared to endeavor
to make both man and horse comfortable."
Our village had grown rapidly and by 1840 boasted a popula-
52 EARLY LIFE
tion of about 2,000. They came from all parts of the world and
nearly all of the languages of Europe could be heard on our
streets. The predominant one was English, but French and
German were almost as numerous. Even the sons of Ireland
spoke in their original Gaelic. By 1840 the sons of Africa also
The Public Square at that time was surrounded with fine
buildings and was intersected by two heavily traveled streets.
Our village was also located on the great Western Mail Route
so that a four-horse mail stagecoach passed through it each
way, every day. This gave our early settlers great mail facilities.
Homes in the early days were built very close to the street
line, so that every home could have its back yard and garden,
wherein, with much work and patience, amazing results in both
flower and vegetable plots were achieved. Furniture used in
these early homes, if still available, has become cherished heir-
looms. Its construction was sturdy and it exhibited true craftman-
ship. With expert knowledge of retaining the natural depth and
beauty of the wood, and with careful and painstaking finishing,
much of it today beautifies present day homes.
Since mosquitoes were a greater menace in pioneer days
than they are today, additional protection had to be taken. The
mosquito bar is a relic that the present generation knows very
little about. It was suspended from the ceiling above the
bed with an opening on one side so that access to the bed could
be had. If one could find the opening he could retire and sleep
with a sense of protection unless one of the pesty things had
entered the inner confines before.
Heating the early home was a real problem for hardly ever
was there enough heat to be really comfortable. Plumbing in
the early home was unheard of. The result was that often our
ancestors had a hearth that was much cleaner than was their
skin. Washing all over wasn't supposed to be very healthy as
was often proven by those who had contracted a cold after
EARLY LIFE 53
taking a warm bath. Some said that many children were sewed
in their winter underwear when the weather became cold, not
taking it off until the spring arrived.
Because there was a lack of heat and a lack of plumbing
facilities, bathing was not a very pleasant experience. The home
was not equipped with a private bathroom and therefore it was
difficult to have a room in which a bath could be taken at its
proper temperature. Even bath tubs jammed against a stove
were not ver)^ comfortable. The first bath tubs had a scratchy
film of sand in the bottom to prevent falling in the tub.
In 1848 Mr. Simon Eimer changed his home into a private
bath house and invited all citizens of this and other towns to
indulge in this new pleasure. His home was located near the
Catholic Church and this helped greatly to increase the number
of his patrons. All considered bathing a luxury, but admitted
that it was conductive to health, particularly in the summer.
It was enjoyable too because the individual bather could regulate
the heat to the desired temperature. The local gentry took to
the idea and made their weekly "dunking" a sort of social event,
with the result that there was a general rush for Eimer's bath
tubs on Saturday nights.
The bath house in Simon Eimer's home was nothing more
than two large rooms that were filled with several rows of
bath tubs. Hot water was supplied by huge old railroad boilers
and here, in merry fashion, our early citizens would splash about.
Not all could take their baths on Saturday night and those
who couldn't get in came back on Sunday morning. The bath
tubs must have taken a terrific beating on Saturdav nights and
a lesser one on Sunday mornings, but the regular Saturday
bath soon became an established rule for our citizens and is
one of the interesting chapters of early American history.
With the advent of modem plumbing came the death of the
bath houses. Soon plumbing became so reduced in price that
54 EARLY LIFE
all, and not only the select few, began to take their Saturday
Food supplies for winter were usually very plentiful but were
acquired at the cost of much labor. Before winter set in the
gleaming copper ketde worked over-time making apple butter,
canned fruits, and vegetables. This work was usually done in
the summer kitchen, which also served as a laundry.
As time went on the village grew; until now there was
ample work for fifteen doctors, ten lawyers, and a due proportion
of clergymen. The three hotels, all on Main Street, did a
thriving business; our fourteen retail stores sold about $40,000
worth of goods per year; and the two drug stores were always
Our shoe cobblers in 1844 not only repaired shoes but also
made them. If vou saw a sample shoe in his store that you
wanted he would take your order and in about two weeks you
could call for your pair of shoes. For payment you could give
him either cash or hides and these could be either green or
dry. The prices for his shoes were as follows: Men's kip
brogans, eighty-seven cents to one dollar and twenty-five cents;
calf skin brogans, one dollar and twenty-five cents to one dollar
and sixty-two cents; boys' shoes, seventy-five cents to one dollar
and thirty-seven cents; women's shoes, eighty-seven cents to
one dollar and twelve cents. The shoes were made out of cow
hide but the kip brogans could be made of any young hide. The
brogans were heavy, a rather crude shoe, and it was difficult
to tell the difference between the right and left shoe.
To become an acknowledged leader in any profession requires
a lot of work and studying. This was especially true of the
early lawyers of our city. The first of these to locate here were
Mr. William Mears, Mr. Robert McLaughlin, A. C. Stuart,
and Adam W. Snyder. Mr. Stuart was a man of learning and
talent, but died early because he worked and played too
much and rested too little. Mr. Mears, who was appointed At-
EARLY LIFE 55
torney General for the Territory of Illinois by Governor Ninian
Edwards, was very capable and made a lot of money. Mr.
McLaughlin didn't like practising law, so he and Ninian
Edwards entered the merchandising business. Their store was
located on the north side of the Public Square, near the present
Belleville National Bank building. Although Mr. Synder was
not an especially popular lawyer, much of his life w^as spent
in public employment. He was a man of genius and possessed
great talents. He had a convincing influence on jurors, who
nearly always set it down that he w^as right in his address to
June, 1844, became noted for the great flood that completely
engulfed the American Bottom. Mississippi River steamers
could travel from bluff to bluff. No dry land was visible for
miles except a few mounds and high knolls east and south of
the village of East St. Louis. Later devastating floods occurred
in 1851, 1858, 1862, 1876, 1878, 1883, 1892, 1903, and 1927.
At about this time Belleville became interested in better
streets, for the village council passed an ordinance which
required every able bodied man over 21 and under 50 years of
age to labor upon public roads, streets, or alleys for a period not
exceeding five days each year when notified to do so by the
street inspector. There was a fine of $.75 per day if one
Just as prices on all things were much lower in the early
days than they are today, so too were the city salaries. The
incorporation articles allowed the town treasurer a salary of
only ten dollars a year. The town clerk was better paid for he
received six per cent of all taxes and twelve per cent of all
the fines collected. The village assessor and street commissioners
received the large sum of one dollar and fifty cents per day.
Those that were paid by the day could only collect for the days
in which they actively engaged in official duties.
Our village all the while continued to prosper and to grow.
56 EARLY LIFE
Our natural growth then as now was along the main arteries
of travel, the principal streets being Main and Illinois Streets.
New houses were always built along roads leading to and from
the village. Eventually the roads were so dotted with houses
that they became streets. Examples of this are Freeburg,
Mascoutah, Lebanon, and Centerville Avenues. Gradually gaps
between these roadside advances were filled in and the territory
annexed to the city. At the present time, the outlying gaps
in the city's far flung stretches are being filled in by the develop-
ment of territory lying along the belt highways.
A Distinguished Citizen
HE historians' TEST of an individual's greatness is "What
did he leave to grow? Did he start men to thinking and acting
along fresh lines with a vigor that persisted after him?" By
this test we shall now consider one of our leading citizens.
Other Liberals had already preceded him. They were for
the most part men and women of education and culture, who
at once began to exert influence on the intellectual and political
life of both the state and the nation.
Among these were Theodore and Edward Hilgard, Theodore
J. Kraft, Gustave Heimberger, Henry, Joseph, and Edward
Abend, Adolph Englemann, John Scheel, and Dr. George
The German emigration to our city continued increasing. In
1837 the families of Adolph Hildebrandt, Junius Raith, William
A. Michel, Fred and Herman Wolf, Dr. Albert Trapp, Dr.
Adolph Berchelmann, Henry Schleth, and August Hassel were
added to our already large German population.
Gustavus Philip Koerner was born on November 20, 1809,
at Frankfort, Germany. When seven years old he was sent to
a Model School in that city. In these schools there was litde
memorizing and the pupils had always to explain the why and
wherefore of things. If you failed to study your lesson you were
kept after school to learn the lessons you had neglected. If
you were guilty of bad conduct this same thing happened or
you remained in during play time. Women teachers in Germany
taught the girls knitting, sewing, embroidering, and the like,
but for them to teach other subjects in that early day was wholly
unheard of, and for them to teach boys was regarded as ridicu-
lous. So Gustavus Koemer had only men teachers. After grad-
uating from the Model School, he continued his studies at the
Gymnasium (college) in that city.
In 1828 he entered the University of Gena to study law.
Later he transferred to the University of Munich and finally
to Heidelberg where he received his Doctor of Laws Degree.
When the Frankfort revolt of 1833 occurred, he at once be-
came active with the Liberals and was wounded in the fiahting.
Then, with the aid of friends, he fled to France for safety,
where he joined a party sailing from Havre to the United States.
He arrived in New York on June 17, 1833, and set out at once
for St. Louis. There he became disappointed because Missouri
tolerated slaver\% so he moved to Belleville.
Gustave Koemer threw himself whole heartedly into Amer-
ican life wanting to become as representative a citizen as
possible. Hoping to further his education, he took a law course
at Transylvania University, which is located at Lexington,
Kentucky. Here he hoped to become well versed in American
law and also to greatly improve his use of the English language.
While at the University, in company with a friend, he went
walking one morning. Stopping at a very large white mansion,
their knock at the door was answered by a negro sen^ant
who led them into a large and elegant waiting room. It was
the home of Henry Clay, who came in and talked with
them for an hour. When he found out that Koerner was a
German he at once launched into a eulogy of the Germans.
"The Germans," he said, "are very honest people, fine farmers,
and very industrious. I consider them a blessing to the country
in which they settle. The only thing I do not like is their
politics." Completing his course at the University, Koener return-
ed to Belleville where he began the practice of law and entered
politics. His law office w^as in a building which occupied the
location of the now modern Elliot Liquor Store.
Upon his marriage to Sophie Engelmann on June 17, 1836,
he resided temporarily in the small house that stood at the
corner of Main and Church Street, pending his occupancy of
the somewhat larger and much more attractive place adjoining
the Hinckley Bank. The latter fronted on the Public Square
and occupied the present site of the First National Bank
Building. Later he lived at the corner of North Second and
West A Streets until he built a home at the south-east corner
of Abend Street and Mascoutah Avenue.
In December, 1840, Koerner was elected to be our electoral
messenger to Washington. The five electors of Illinois met in
Springfield the first Wednesday of that month to cast their
ballots for Van Buren. Koerner left by boat at once, crossed
the Alleghenies by stagecoach and finished the trip by train.
He delivered the sealed votes to Vice-President Richard M.
Johnson. In Washington he met John Quincy Adams, James
Polk, Thomas Hart Benton, and also President Van Buren.
Again on December 26, 1840, he made a hurried trip to
Baltimore to buy a fire engine for the city of Belleville, and
on New Year's Day, attended the public reception at the
White House where he met General Scott.
In 1842 he was elected to the state legislature as representative
from St. Clair County and had the distinction of being the
first German to be elected to that body. In 1842 the English
novelist Charles Dickens, while on a tour in the United
States, passed through Belleville. He wanted to see the new
Court House, so Koerner at once tried to make proper arrange-
ments for such a visit through Judge Breese. Breese though,
when asked to give Dickens a seat on the bench, refused to
grant that because as he put it, "He is one of those puffed up
Enghshmen who, when they get home, use their pen to ridicule
and slander us. He can come in, but will be treated like any
other mortal." Needless to say, Dickens did not visit the Court
Koerner had become acquainted with Stephen A. Douglas
while in Springfield in 1840, and the latter came to visit
him in 1844. It was then that he made one of his most
effective speeches prior to the presidential election in 1844.
Koerner took an active part in politics, but in this he was
true always to his conviction, for he was in turn, first a Demo-
crat, then a Republican, and again a Democrat. The first
campaigns in which he engaged were those of 1840 and '44.
In 1845 he was named a Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court
and accepted it because his German friends urged him to,
due to the prestige it would give them. He remained on the
bench until 1850 when he resigned to enter politics again.
In the year 1852, the great Kentucky statesman, Henry
Clay, died. A large meeting was held in our city to express
sympathy over his death. Koerner drew up the resolutions and
had to support them in a speech, and although he opposed the
great statesman politically, the eulogy expressed his true feelings
On April 19, 1852, the state Democratic convention met at
Springfield, and Koerner was a delegate to it. Mattison won
the gubernatorial nomination, while Koerner was nominated
on the third ballot for Lieutenant-Governor. In this campaign
Koerner and Douglas toured the state, speaking at Freeport,
Chicago, Joliet, LaSalle, Peru, Peoria, Peking, Beardstown,
Springfield, Carlinville, and Alton. Most of the speaking how-
ever, was done by Douglas and as a matter of courtesy, Koerner
merely sat on the platform with him.
In January, 1853, he was inaugurated Lieutenant-Governor.
Ex-Governor Reynolds was at that time elected Speaker of the
House. Thus both the House and Senate were presided over
by Belleville men.
When his party accepted the pro-slavery policies of Presidents
Pierce and Buchanan, Koemer broke broke away from it and
played a conspicuous part in the bringing about of a new party.
While a member of this new party, he became rather closely
associated with Abraham Lincoln, whom he had met at various
times before. At a Republican rally in our city in 1856 Koemer
introduced Lincoln to the local audience. Commenting on
Lincoln and Douglas, Koerner once said that Lincoln delighted
his crowds and kept them in a perfect roar of laughter, while
Douglas interested them by his impressive way of speaking.
In 1856 Koerner was nominated on the Republican ticket
for Congress but was defeated by a fusion of the Democrats
On May 9, 1860, the Republican state convention was held
at Bloomington at which Koerner was elected a delegate at
large. These electors, meeting later in Chicago, named Lincoln
the Republican nominee for President.
When the Civil War broke out Koerner enlisted and became
a Colonel. However, before the end of the war. President
Lincoln in 1862 appointed him United States minister to
Spain. Here he remained until 1864 when he resigned and
came back home. On May 4, 1865, he had the honor of
serving as one of the pallbearers at Lincoln's funeral. In 1870,
he entered politics again, but was defeated for the United States
Senate by General John A. Logan.
On June 26, 1872, the Liberal Republican and Democratic
convention met in Springfield and Koerner became their
nominee for Governor of Illinois. In this election he was de-
feated, although he carried St. Clair County by 700 votes and
ran ahead of the Liberal Republican state ticket by 12,500
votes, but not enough to overcome Grant's majority over Greeley
which was was over 40,000.
His last active political campaign was in 1876, when he
favored Tilden over Hayes because the former was more liberal.
Soon therafter he retired from politics and spent the rest of his
days in peaceful literary pursuits. In 1880 he published a book
entided The German Element in the United States. Before
that, in 1867, he had published one entitled From Sfain,
while in the latter part of 1880 he compiled, in two volumes,
all the important laws of the state of Illinois. He died on April
9, 1896, in his home on the corner of Abend and Mascoutah
Avenue, having attained the ripe old age of 86. After his death
his grandson, Edgar Rombauer, published his most popular
work, Koerner's Memoirs.
Many regard Gustavus Phillip Koerner as our most dis-
tinguished citizen, for he was a lawyer, a jurist of distinction,
Lieutenant-Governor of Illinois, United States minister to Spain,
and a historian, but above all he was an exemplary citizen.
OUTSTANDING AMERICAN PIONEERS
Many able men, some of whom were men of distinction, have
at one time or another made Belleville their home. Among the
earliest of these we find the names of Stookcy, Miller, Eyman,
Teter, Lemen, Ogle, Badgleys, Kinney, Whiteside, Phillips,
Riggs, Varner, Redman, Stout, Pulliam, Messenger, Baker,
Reynolds, Bissell, Trumbull, Edwards, Scott, Morrison, Niles,
Underwood, West, Baker, and Hay. In 1818, more men
settled here, coming from the state of Virginia. Noted among
these were James Mitchell, John H. Dennis, and B. J. West,
all of whom contributed their bit to the community, for these
men were always ready to assume responsible positions of state
and national government. Belleville gave Illinois three state gov-
ernors, Ninian Edwards, John Reynolds, and William H.
Bissel; two state superintendents of public instruction, James
P. Slade and Henry Raab; two state treasurers, Edward Rutz
and Charles Becker; three United States Senators, Ninian
Edwards, James Shields, and Lyman Trumbull; two United
States ministers, Gustav Koerner to Spain, and Jehu Baker to
Prominent also in pioneer days was John Messenger, who
was born in West Stock Bridge, Massachusetts, in the year 1771.
He received a thorough education and acquired a love for
English literature and mathematics. In 1783 he left the state
of his birth, going to Jericho, Vermont, where he learned the
trade of carpenter and millwright. He became so good at this
that later, when he married, he made all of his own furniture,
from walnut, cherry, and hard maple woods.
While in Vermont he became acquainted with the family
of Matthew Lyon. In fact he became so well acquainted with
one of the daughters, named Ann, that he later married her.
In 1799, Matthew Lyon and his family, which now included
the new son-in-law John Messenger, left their native state and
migrated to Kentucky where he founded the city of Eddyville,
in Lyon County. Young Messenger, seriously objecting to
slavery, moved to Illinois in 1802, although the Lyon family
remained in Kentucky. He landed at Fort Chartres, stayed
there two years, then moved to New Design. He later bought a
large farm north of Belleville which he named Clinton Hill,
and here spent the rest of his life.
While living on the farm, he opened a quarry to supply the
necessary stones for his home, wells, etc. He also established
one of our earliest schools because many of his neighbors were
anxious to learn to read and write. He soon decided also that
this community needed mail service. Through his father-in-law,
Matthew Lyon, who was a representative from Kentucky, he
was able to open the Clinton Hill Indiana Territory Post
Office. This Indiana Territory had been formed from the
Northwest Territory in 1800 and included what is now Illinois.
Having a good knowledge of higher mathematics, he was
appointed Deputy Surveyor of the United States in 1832, in
which capacity he surveyed the northern boundary of the state
By an act of Congress in 1809 the Territory of Ihinois was
separated from the Territory of Indiana and Ninian Edwards
was appointed its first governor, with Kaskaskia designated as
the state capital.
In 1818 lUinois became a state of the Union and John
Messenger was one of the thirty-three delegates who met at
Kaskaskia in that summer to frame the first constitution. When
statehood had been granted, he became one of the members
of the first General Assembly and was elected the first Speaker
of the House of Representatives.
In 1802 he organized the first Protestant church in St. Clair
County and it became known as the Clinton Hill Baptist
Church. In 1820 he surveyed a tract of three and one-half acres
and deeded it to the church for a burying ground which is today
known as the Clinton Hill or Messenger Cemetery.
The children of John Messenger and Annie Lyon were, in
the order of their birth, Amanda, Benjamin, Charles, Belinda,
Elon, John, Minerva, Pamelia, and Matthew.
On January 16, 1846, John Messenger passed away at his
home on Clinton Hill at the age of 75. He was buried at the
side of his wife, who preceeded him to the Great Beyond on
October 16, 1842. Near him are also buried some of his children
and many of his friends and neighbors. A great grandson,
George Engelbert Hoffmann, still lives on the Messenger farm
on the old Collinsville Road. On July 26, 1942, this great
grandson dedicated the first monument in the United States
to the battle of Pearl Harbor of December 7, 1941.
Another representative settler whose life was typical of the
early pioneers was William Kinney. He was born near Louis-
ville, Kentucky, in 1781, a region that was known as "a bloody
battle ground" because of the many Indian wars that took place
there. In 1792 when he was eleven years old, the family moved
to New Design, Illinois. His earlier life had been one of
contant danger and hardships. Growing to manhood, he bought
when but nineteen year old, a small farm just east of Belleville.
Settling down there with his wife, he became a prosperous
farmer. His wife taught him to read and write, and with
the guidance of John Messenger and by diligent application,
he became a very well-informed man. He conducted a country
store on his farm and sold anything offered or demanded from
whiskey to Negro slaves. The store and the farm prospered and
the farm grew in size until it included the present site of St.
John's Orphanage, formerly known as Glen Addie, on the
Shiloh Road. Glen Addie, a pretentious estate, was built by
Col. J. L. D. Morrison.
Although primarily a farmer, he also entered the ministry
and became quite a distinguished Baptist preacher. This prov-
ided him with a good background for it increased his knowledge
and made him a good public speaker.
He abandoned the ministry for the political field. Kinney
had become wealthy in business and attained prominence
in politics. He was either whole-heartedly for or against what-
ever the issues were at that time. He was elected to the first
and third sessions of the State Senate and later served a term
as Lieutenant-Governor, but in the election of 1834 he was
defeated for governorship. He became president of the Board
of Public Works in 1836, from which he resigned within a
few years, returning to his country estate where he died in the
year 1843, and where he is buried. He was a practical man
and his free and easy manner made him very popular with
evervone. His great grandson, John Thomas Lienesch, who died
in 1944, lived on a farm in that vicinity.
Another prominent native American was Ninian Edwards.
He played an unusually important part in Illinois histor)'.
When Illionis became a state in 1818 there were practically
but two parties, the Edwards party and the anti-Edwards faction.
In the first election of 1818 the Edwards faction won, and
Edwards was elected U. S. Senator by the state legislature,
holding that office until his resignation in 1824.
In 1826 he was elected governor of Illinois, being the first
Bellevillian, although he had but recently come to Belleville,
to be elected to that office. He was the third governor of the
state. With his political power increasing, he became the hub
around which Illinois politics revolved. He did not seek re-
election in 1830, but in 1832 he was defeated for Congress.
In 1824 he resigned his senatorial seat to become minister to
Mexico, but due to a bitter controversy between he and the
Secretary of Treasury, he resigned this newly acquired mission.
At one time his political power waned, but he staged a come-
back. By birth and by conduct, he was a real aristocrat. He
dressed in silk, wore his hair in a pig tail, rode in an elegant
carriage, and was accompanied by liveried servants. When our
city was visited by the cholera epidemic of 1833, physicians were
so desperately needed that Governor Edwards hastened to
attend the people of his community. Although the governor had
never actually practiced medicine, he had a wide knowledge
of the profession. He himself was stricken and died almost
immediately, a victim of the deadly malady.
John Reynolds, a true politician in every meaning of the
word, was born in Pennsylvania, February 6, 1788, the son
of Irish emmigrants who moved to Pennsylvania in 1788, and
to Illinois in 1800, settling just east of Kaskaskia.
He rose in his chosen profession because of his dogged
determination to succeed. He had a flourishing law practice
at Cahokia and later at Belleville. So successful had he become
that he served as an Associate Judge of the Illinois Supreme
Court from 1818 to 1825. He was known as "the old ranger,"
because in the war of 1812, along with Captain William B.
Whiteside, he had taken part in Illinois' frequent skirmishes
with the Indians.
From 1826 to 1828 he served as a member of the General
Assembly, finally crowning his political success by being elected
Governor of the state in 1830, succeeding Ninian Edwards.
In his campaign for the governorship in 1830 he toured the
state on horseback, made speech after speech and caught the
farmer's vote with his Irish blarney. He had vote-getting
ability and was always ready to donate his legal service to the
poor, all of which contributed towards his success.
He was in sympathy with the southern Democrats and
championed their cause in slavery. He was for states rights,
opposed the National Bank, favored territorial expansion and
opposed Lincoln and his Emancipation. Above all he detested
the new Republican partv. He served ten terms as Congress-
man from Illinois from 1833 to 1848, and from 1852 to 1854
was a member of the Illinois State Assembly. Later he was
appointed Justice of the Supreme Court in which he serv'^ed a
few years, later retiring to his home in Belleville.
Here he occupied himself in literary work becoming the
author of History of Belleville, My Own Times, Pioneer
History of Illinois, and Sketches of the Country on the North
Route from Belleville, Illinois.
His home still stands at 110 North Illinois Street, just south
of the Renner-Geminn Funeral Home. It is of comfortable
proportion, a two story brick of sturdy and enduring construc-
tion. This residence has defied time, and recently it was
marked with a copper memorial tablet which bears the follow-
ing inscription: "Jot^^ Reynolds, Governor of Illinois, 1830
to 1834, resided here." J. Nick Perrin, a local historian, was
given the honor of placing the tablet there.
Joseph Scott, another early American settler, came here at
the age of seventeen from Virginia. He helped to build the
home of George Blair, on the present site of the Elks Club.
In 1811 he and a companion went into the wilderness of
Missouri looking for saltpeter then used in making gun powder.
This trip took all winter but they came back with 400 pounds
of saltpeter. He then built a gun-powder mill on his farm,
which supplied enough for all his neighbors. His powder gained
a wide reputation for it was said to be powerful enough to
kill the devil.
William H. Bissell, of whom this community is proud, was
born near Cooperstown, New York, on April 25, 1811. His
parents were poor, but he managed to attend the public schools,
later to graduate from the Philadelphia Medical College in
1835 and the Transylvania University at Lexington, Kentucky,
in 1844. He moved to Illinois in 1836 and began the practice
of medicine in Monroe County.
In appearance he was of average height, finely proportioned,
and bore himself with becoming dignity. He was frank, open,
and prepossessing, with dark and overhanging eyebrows.
In manner he was exceedingly courteous, and his conversations
\^•ere animated and interesting. He was a kind and affectionate
husband and father, a splendid citizen, a staunch friend, and a
devoted and sincere believer in immortality.
He volunteered in the Mexican War as a private and joined
Company G, of the 2nd Regiment. By June, 1846 he had
attained the rank of Colonel and as such won distinction in
the battle of Buena Vista.
He was elected to Congress in 1850 and served three terms.
While there he was challenged to a duel by Jefferson Davis
after a heated exchange of words respecting the relative courage
of the northern and southern soldiers in the Mexican War.
Mr. Davis' friends however, objected to the duel and it never
occurred. With the ex-piration of his third congressional term
he had hoped to retire from politics, but the Republican State
Convention at Bloomington in 1856 selected him to head
their ticket as Governor of Illinois. Heretofore he had been a
Democrat, but he consented to run as a Republican and led
the state ticket to victory, giving a Bellevillian the honor of
being the first Republican Governor of Illinois. He defeated
his Democratic opponent, Richardson, by 5,000 votes, but he
was unfortunate to have had a Democratic legislature. Beina
partially paralized in his lower limbs, his inauguration as
governor took place in the Executive Mansion on January 12,
1857, attended only by his immediate family and a few friends.
Ten months before his term ended, he contracted a cold which
later developed into pneumonia. This caused his death on
March 18, 1860, in his 49th year.
Mrs. Elizabeth Bissell, his widow, continued to reside in
Springfield until 1863. In that year she moved back to Belleville
and died here in 1865. She was buried in Oak Ridge Cemetery,
in Springfield, by the side of her husband.
On June 21, 1917, the Belleville Chapter of Daughters of
the American Revolution placed a bronze tablet in the main
building of the Belleville Township High School commemorat-
ing the three Governors, Edwards, Reynolds, and Bissell, and
the two Lieutenant-Governors, Kinney and Koerner, who had
been local residents and who had contributed so much, not
only to the state, but to the nation as well.
Two other men worthy of mention are Colonel Phillip B.
Fouke and Colonel James L. D. Morrison, better known as
Don Morrison. The first one became United States Congress-
man succeeding Bissell, while the latter, a rival of Bissell,
sacrificed his political future by refusing to repudiate slavery.
He was nevertheless a good soldier, an able lawyer, and a
Lyman Trumbull too, has his place in our history. He was
born at Colchester, Connecticut, on October 12, 1813, but
moved to Georgia, where he became a school teacher and
where he learned to hate slavery. He decided to move north,
which he did in 1837, riding horseback all the way. He and
Governor Reynolds formed a law partnership. Although a
successful debater, he was never recognized as an outstanding
orator. He was an untiring worker, and possessed the ability
to concentrate, but did not find pleasure in social life, remaining
rather aloof in manner.
His ability was never questioned, and he grew in statesman-
like stature as time went on.
Entering politics in 1840, he was elected as a representative
to our General Assembly. In 1841 he was named Secretary of
State and sen'ed as such until 1843. From 1848 to 1853 he served
as a Justice of the State Supreme Court, and in 1855 entered
the race for the United States Senate. Senator Shield's term
was about to expire and it was believed that he could not be
re-elected for he had voted in favor of the Kansas-Nebraska
Bill. Trumbull, his opponent, won because the anti-Nebraska
Democrats and Whigs joined to elect him. He ser\'ed as our
Senator for a period of eighteen years, 1855 to 1873, and was
regarded as one of the ablest statesmen during the Civil War
and Reconstruction Period. He served also on the Senate
Judiciary Committee where he was perhaps more influential
in shaping legislation on war and reconstruction than any other
Senator. In 1864 he introduced a resolution into Congress that
later became the 13th amendment to the United States Con-
stitution, which abolished the last remaining remnant of slavery
throughout the United States.
In 1872 he was proposed for the Liberal Republican nomina-
tion for President. However, when this failed he completed his
term in the United States Senate, after which he moved
to Chicago and again practiced law and remained active
in that profession until his death on June 25, 1896. Unpreten-
tious and scholarlv, he was one of our outstanding lawyers and
statesmen, failing to reach greater political heigths only because
he lacked popular appeal. His home in Belleville was on South
Nathaniel Niles, who came to Belleville in 1842, was born
in Oswego County, New York, February 4, 1877. He soon
distinguished himself as an editor, lawyer, and military leader.
PI ONEERS 71^
He was one of the founders of the RepuWican party in Southern
Ilhnois and was editor of the Daily Advocate from 1851 to
He enlisted in the Mexican War, 1846, fought in the battle
of Buena Vista under General Taylor, and rose to the rank of
Captain. Again in the Civil War he fought under Grant at
Vicksburg and later represented our county at Springfield. He
died on September 16, 1900, and was buried in Walnut Hill
Cemetery. His friend of long standing, Jehu Baker, delivered
his funeral oration.
Two brothers who became well-known here were William
H. and Joseph B. Underwood. Both were very able lawyers,
but William gained greater prominence. William was bom in
Schoharie County, New York, February 21, 1818. His am-
bitions urged him to go West where opportunities then seemed
greater. In 1841 he was elected District Attorney and was re-
elected in 1843. In 1848 he was elected Judge of the Circuit
Court and in 1856 became State Senator to which office he
was re-elected in 1860 and again in 1870. While in the Illinois
Senate he was one of its most industrious members never missing
a single day's session, never missing a committee meeting, and
holding a holy terror for special legislation, always working hard
to defeat it. In 1870 he was also elected a delegate to our state
constitutional convention and later was the author of Under-
wood's Annotated Statutes of Illinois, in two volumes. He was
an able debater, possessing fine literary talents. He was well
informed in political economy and was regarded as a most
estimable gentleman. He died on September 23, 1875, at his
residence on Abend street.
Two men who are sometimes referred to as "The Two Fathers
of our City," were Mr. James Mitchell and Mr. John Dennis.
In 1821 Mr. Mitchell was appointed Justice of the Peace and
was our Postmaster for many years. Mr. Dennis taught school
for forty years, teaching nearly all the youth of his day. In
1862 he became the School Commissioner for St. Clair County
and installed new life, vigor, and efficiency in the whole public
James P. Slade was born in 1832 and became one of our
leading educators. In 1863 he was elected principal of Belleville
High School located in the Odd Fellows Building, now the
Lincoln Hotel. He was our eleventh County Superintendent
and served in that capacity for three terms. In 1869 he was
elected vice-president of our State Teachers' Association and in
the same year he was appointed a Trustee to our State Univer-
sity. In 1873 he was made a member of the Shurtleff College
Board of Examiners. In 1876 he was elected Treasurer of our
State Teachers' Association and also State Superintendent of
Public Instruction. He was re-elected to the latter office in
1880 and in 1883 was appointed President of Almira College
in Granville, 111., which position he filled as soon as his second
term expired. He served in this capacity until 1890 when he was
appointed Superintendent of the Public Schools of East St.
Louis. He died in that city in 1908 at the age of 76 years.
John B, Hay, born January 8, 1834, was a native-bom
Bellevillian. His boyhood home stood where our City Hall
now stands. His father was a storekeeper, and not being very
prosperous, the children had to earn their own living as much
His career started in a printing office, where he learned the
printing trade and studied law at the same time. In 1851 he
was admitted to the bar. After editing the St. Clair Tribune for
six months he gave it up for it proved unprofitable. He married
Maria Hinckley of Belleville on October 16, 1857.
He had received a liberal education and was quite a
classical scholar. His penmanship was perfect and because of
it, he was emploved wherever good penmanship was a requisite.
He soon became the undisputed writer of wills and contracts,
and it was characteristic that nearly all of these were identical.
because as it was said, "If you are honest, a will can be written
only one way." His honesty was such that never a finger of
suspicion was pointed at him. He walked through life with his
head erect and looked every man squarely in the eye. He was
always courteous and polite and conducted himself with the
grace and dignity that is so often an accomplishment of the
men of the South.
In 1860 he was a delegate to the Republican State Conven-
tion at Decatur, where he helped declare Illinois for Lincoln as
president. He had been elected State's Attorney in 1856, an of-
fice to which he was re-elected in 1864. In 1870 he was elected
to Congress, but was defeated in 1872 and in 1880 by small
majorities. In 1881 he was appointed Postmaster of Belleville
by President Garfield. In 1886 he was elected County Judge,
and in 1901 was honored by being elected Mayor of Belleville.
In 1902 and 1906 he was again elected County Judge.
He died at the home of his son in Chicago, on June 29,
1916. His body was sent here for burial. Services were held
on July 2 at the Court House where his life-long friend Cyrus
Thompson delivered the eulogy after which his body was laid
to rest in Green Mount Cemetery.
Another man worthy of mention is Colonel John Thomas.
He was at various times Colonel of the first state militia of
Illinois, Colonel of a regiment in the Black Hawk War, a State
Representative, and later a State Senator. He was the grand-
father of our present State Senator John Thomas, and was
at one time regared as the wealthiest land owner in St. Clair
James Shields was born in Ireland May 12, 1806. In 1822
he sailed from Liverpool for Quebec but was shipwrecked off
the coast of Scotland. Here he earned money as a tutor and
again started out in 1826, this time making the journey safely.
From Quebec he migrated southward finally settling at Kas-
kaskia, from whence he moved to Belleville, where he practiced
law, entered politics, and became a soldier in the Black
Hawk, Mexican, and Civil Wars. In political life he accom-
plished the seemingly impossible for he represented at one
time or another, three states, Illinois Minnesota, and Missouri,
in the United States Senate. While in Illinois he was a member
of the General Assembly, was State Auditor, Justice of the
Supreme Court, Land Commissioner, and United States Senator
Shields later moved to Minnesota where he encouraged the
setthng of the Irish in St. Paul. When Minnesota became a
state in 1859 Shields was elected one of its United States
After the Civil War, 1866, he moved to Missouri and served
out an unexpired term as United States Senator, January 27,
1879 to March 3, 1879, but ill health forced him to retire from
politics. His death occurred June I, 1879, and he was buried at
Carrolton, Mo. All three states have since honored him with
a statue or memorial.
Jehu Baker was born November 4, 1822, the son of William
and Margaret Baker, who came to this country when Jehu was
only seven years old. They settled on a farm near Lebanon
where Jehu attended the public schools and McKendree College.
Upon graduating he moved to Belleville where he became a
noted linguist, for he could translate French, German, Spanish,
and Italian with ease. His English edition of Montesque's
Grandeur and Decadence of the Romans is regarded as an
authoritative work. He was admitted to the bar in 1846, was
Master in Chancery of St. Clair County, 1861 to 1865, was
elected to Congress as a Republican in 1864, and served as
United States Minister to Venezuela from 1876 to 1885. He
was returned to Congress again in 1886 and 1896. He died
on March 1, 1903, at his home, 218 South High, at the age of
81 and was buried in Green Mount Cemetery.
Other early American setders were J. S. Ferryman, E. W.
Primm, D. Rentchler, J. T. Ward, W. C. Buchanan, Thomas
Harrison, J. M. Hay, Charles Gooding, James II. and Felix
Scott, Joseph Griffen, John Hinchcliife (who wrote a history
of Belleville), J. W. Hughes, Peter Dunn, Adam, Elijah, and
H. S. Badgley, and W. J. Wilderman.
NOTED GERMAN IMMIGRANTS
The German immigration to St. Clair County began in
1826 when two German families settled here, and by 1830 these
were followed by the first great influx of German immigrants.
Before this time the French and English languages were pre-
dominant, but with the coming of the Germans came a change
in speech. It was this German element that perhaps has
contributed most to the material and cultural growth of our
Germany was at that time in a state of political unrest,
which culminated in the Revolution of 1830 and its later op-
pression. The revolutionists lost and had to flee their country^
and that brought to our country some of the most liberal and
best thinking Germans. For the most part they were students.
They came here because they were attracted by the liberal
policy of our young republic. Then too, they found inviting
homes on the virgin soil of our midwestern prairies, although
their former habits and education fitted them more for polished
city life than for the toils and struggle of the frontier.
Among them were lawyers, public officials, school teachers,
clergymen, merchants, and wealthy farmers. Many had been
forced to flee for their lives and all were disgusted with the
reactionary forces that had been turned loose upon them in
The naturalization list of our county from 1836 to 1844
was overwhelmingly German. Among them were such names
as Koerner, Hilgard, Eckert, Scheel, Abend, Engelmann, Raab,
Bunsen, Bomman, Busse, Obermueller, Ackerman, Knobeloch,
Mueller, Ensminger, Mohr, Heimburger, Joseph, Scheel, Knab,
Daab, Rentchler and many others.
Well can we marvel at the courage of the immigrant who
came from Europe when we consider what an ordeal an ocean
voyage was in those days. Delays on the ocean for the sail boats
were coundess due to the shifting winds, duties on baggage were
heavy, and there seemed to have been little or no respect ior
personal comfort and hygienic conditions on the ship. Many
persons became very ill due to the small size of the ship and
its crowded condition, which made ocean travel most unpleasant.
Many adults died from, and small children seldom survived,
the hardships of such a voyage.
The voyage from Rotterdam to Philadelphia cost $80 per
person. Those who could not pay for their trip practically sold
themselves into slavery for they could not leave the ship until
bought by some purchaser and the money turned over to the
captain of the ship.
It took some of them years to regain their freedom. Adults
served for three or four years; children, between the ages of
ten to fifteen, sensed until they were twenty-one. Many parents
had to sell their children to pay their passage. In this way many
families were separated and scattered in their new found
Belleville, by the year 1855, had a population of over 6,000
and began to look like a t^'pical German village with its German
signs and its German beer gardens. Many homes were furnished
with furniture brought from Germany and the method of living
was still like that in the home country.
The German pioneers had not intended to perpetuate German-
ism on American soil in the false hope that some one state
or many communities in a state would become a German oasis,
or even a new Germany. The grouping together of so many
similar elements with such a small admixture of America natural-
ly tended to continue the use of the German language and of
The Germans loved their new home and the Hberty that it
offered them. This was shown by their participation in the
celebration of the Fourth of July in 1843. They were the first
to erect a liberty pole on the Public Square and it was the
tallest ever put up, so tall that it had to be spliced in two places
and stood well over 100 feet in height.
The industrious Germans have also been noted for their
"gemnudichkeit." The Belleville Public Library is an outgrowth
of the German Library Society formed in 1836. The "Saeng-
erbund," another cultural society, was organized here in 1853
as was also the "Liebhaber Theatre Group." Later there were
other musical groups, the Liederkranz and the Kronthal-
The German immigrants were patriotic and liberty-loving
and had their first chance to prove it during the Civil War.
Most of the Germans in our city were passionately on the side
of Lincoln and many volunteered and served their country
throughout the war. On the whole, the Germans prospered,
many becoming more than just well-to-do. There was a well
known saying at that time which was, "He who comes to
America poor becomes rich; who comes to America rich becomes
poor." The poor knew how to save and make every dollar count
and they were often more successful in business.
Although our city had been predominately German since 1830
it has in recent years become more cosmopolitan in character.
The census of 1930 showed that only 58% of our people were
of German extraction and that many other nationalities had been
added to our population. It is a fact, however, that until the
turn of the present century more German was spoken here than
any other language and there were srill pastors preaching in
the German language. It was the first World War, 1914-1918,
that brought about the final change. It was the German element,
perhaps more than any others, that gave our city its sound,
conservative business and civic practices. These have always
been sufficiently developed to meet the normal demands, but
never to the extent of luring speculation. As a whole, our
people are honest, industrious, and thrifty. Not many have
accumulated vast fortunes but most of our people have always
owned their own homes and through the practice of thrift have
guaranteed themselves independence during old age. Such
characteristics as these have made our city stable and assured
us a normal steady growth.
George Bunsen, an outstanding educator, was born in Frank-
fort, Germany, February 18, 1794. He attended the schools
of that city, entered the University of Berlin in 1812, and was
in the German Army that helped defeat Napoleon at Waterloo
in 1815. He continued his studies under Father Pestalozzi in
Switzerland and then opened a boys' school in Frankfort and
many a person of that city owed to him the foundation of
When the Revolution of 1833 broke out he again took a part
in the war, but happened to be on the losing side. He hurriedly
sold all of his property including his school which was bought
by a man named Stellwagen and his home was turned into a
hospital for cholera sufferers. He then joined the Geissener
Immigration Association as a teacher of the children. For pay,
he was to receive transportation for himself and his family
to America and 160 acres of land in the new world. The associa-
tion landed at New Orleans on June 3, 1834. A disagreement
with the association caused Mr. Bunsen to break his contract
with them. He paid for his transportation and immediately came
to St. Louis by boat. His friends soon advised him how he could
obtain rich land near Shiloh from the government and he was
soon the proud owner of a 360-acre farm near our city.
For a cultured man to be obliged to till the soil would have
been a very hard task for many men, but not for Mr. Bunsen.
It was said that he went about his work with an earnestness
that would have been a credit to any of his neighbors who had
been tilling the soil for many years.
He married Sophie Le Coq who was a descendant of the
famous German engraver Chodowiecki. To this union was born
nine children, six sons and three daughters. In 1847 he was
elected a member of the State Constitutional Convention which
drew up the constitution that was adopted by the state of Illinois,
on March 6, 1848. From 1855-1859 he served as County Super-
intendent of Schools. In 1856 Governor Mattison appointed
him a member of the State Board of Education whose duty
it was to establish the first normal school in the state which later
became Normal University, Bloomington, Illinois. In 1857 he
moved to Belleville where he opened a model school and began
propounding to the young Americans the principle of the great
educator Pestalozzi. In 1859 to 1872 he was a director on the
city Board of Education, remaining a member of that until
his death on October 3, 1872, at the age of 78. When he died
all teachers and students showed their love and respect bv
dimissing school and attending his funeral. The newspaper
accounts telling of his death were all headed "Father Bunsen."
This alone shows the esteem in which he was held by the
citizens of our city. No further eulogy need be given except
to say that he was a devout Christian, a great teacher, and a
lovable character. He was buried behind the Chapel in Walnut
Another prominent immigrant, Henry Raab, was born in
the city of Wetzler, Germany, June 20, 1837, educated in his
native city, came to America, and settled in our city in 1854.
He received work as a night clerk in a distillery on West Main,
became interested in education, and entered the teaching
profession. He married Miss Matilda Von Lengerke, a native
of Hanover, Germany, in 1859. To this union were born five
After retiring, he spent his last years in writing on educational
subjects. He wrote a history of the local schools and will be
long remembered for his work as an educator here and
throughout the state of Illinois. He had been connected with
the local education system for thirty-six years and was State
Superintendent of Schools in 1883-87 and again in 1891-95.
Jacob Brosius was bom in Cronberg, Germany, February 27,
1824, and came to America in 1849. He had been well educated
in mathematics and mechanics, and as soon as he arrived in
our city he was determined to engage in farming. He soon
formed a partnership with Jacob Geist and began operating
a foundry for the manufacture of agricultural implements and
soon began to prosper. When the new Court House was built
he received the contract to furnish all the iron work which
included the old iron stairs and the threshhold of the doors.
These are still in the old part of the County Capital today.
In 1876 he built a palatial home at 735 East Main Street,
known as the Cron-thal, and was the first to live in it. It is
remembered today as the homestead of the late Frank N.
Perrin. Brosius also built next to it, at 763 East Main, the first
power plant in this city. He had two ponds which extended
to where the Douglas School is now located and these supplied
the water for the steam engine which furnished the necessary
power. At the peak of the Cron-thal, which was built on the
plan of the castle at Cronberg, Germany, from which place
Bronsius emigrated, was erected a search-light, which illumi-
nated the Public Square of that day in the '80's. Later he
furnished light for that part of the city east of the square by
means of a carbon lamp which t\^e of lamp continued to light
the streets of our city until about 1910.
In 1879 he became interested in a central heating plant and
in the winter of 1880-1881 his plant furnished steam to fifty-
five places in Belleville.
In 1886 Brosius started an oil refining plant on what is now
Mascoutah Avenue, near East Main Street, and is at present
occupied by the repair department of the Herman G. Wangelin
garage. The entire plant and machinery were built under his
direction and were declared at the time to have been most
modern in construction. Here he invented a clear cold-pressed
castor oil, a product pressed from castor beans by machinery
which for a time he kept a secret.
The process was soon discovered, however, and came into
general use throughout the country. He died on July 1, 1882,
at the age of 58 and was buried in Walnut Hill Cemetery.
There was a great stir in the little town of Zweibrucken in
1830, when it became known that Theodore Hilgard, a justice
of the Court of Appeals in that little city, had decided to
abandon his assured legal career to emigrate to the United
States. He was forty years of age and had a wife and nine
children. What was even more striking was that his decision
was due simply and solely to an intellectual conviction that
life in as reactionary a country as Germany was so stifling as
to be unbearable. He was in addition a confirmed Democrat
and believer in Republican institutions with an ardor hardly
in keeping with a judicial career.
It actually took him five years to make the break with a life
marked by such honorable circumstances. His leave-taking was
made harder by a farewell banquet given him by his city. His
sound knowledge, his courage and ability in public relations,
his fine stand as a civil leader, his high ethical standards, as
an inscription at the banquet read, will be his passport and his
security in every hemisphere. The "Landrath" in Zweibrucken,
that is the provincial assembly, recorded on the judge's resigna-
tion that his loss was almost irreplaceable and spoke of his
model character and numerous talents.
There being no railroads this large family embarked in tv\?o
wagons, with one man servant, for Havre, France, which they
reached safely in the short period of eight days. They sailed
on October 22, 1835, for New Orleans, a voyage of no less then
sixty-three days in an American ship which duly transferred
them to a little Mississippi River steamer. When they reached
St. Louis, then a city of 10,000 people, they had been more
than three and one half months on the way from Germany.
They at once crossed the Mississippi to settle in Belleville,
where they joined those who had made this community famous
because of the high attainments and standing of so many of
its members. He bought a two hundred-acre farm between
Belleville and East St. Louis just west of Richland Creek and
here joined a group known as the Latin Peasants but who were
really neither Latin or Peasants, but a group of intellectuals
who had attended German universities and knew Latin and
Greek. Among them were doctors, lawyers, judges, teachers,
businessmen, and noblemen. Of these, the noblemen proved
to be the least efficient and successful of the whole colony
because they were unaccustomed to hard labor and were
imbued with so many social prejudices that thev could not
Our community was then a village of about five hundred
people. Hilgard noticed that homes here were not as large nor
as comfortable as those in Germany. Of this he complained to
his friends, but added that everyone seemed to ha\'e at least
one or more riding horses which more than made up for the
lack of other conveniences.
Twenty feet from his home he had one acre fenced for his
garden. The garden had beautiful shade trees which made it
look like an English park. The garden was in front of the
house, to the right an orchard, in the back a yard, and on the
left could be seen the village of Belleville.
People soon asked to buy some of his land along the
St. Louis Road for building purposes. He then laid off some
of his land into lots of 50x100 and sold them for fifty dollars
each. By 1858 he had sold 552 of them and they formed what
was known as West Belleville.
On the morning of December 6, 1847, part of the brewery
owned by Jacob Fleischbein burned. Firemen were able to
save only the lower part of it but his loss was felt so keenly by
West Belleville that as soon as the fire had been put out
someone proposed that they rebuild the plant so that the
owner's business might not suffer. This the workers agreed
to do and they did the work and the business men furnished
the lumber, all without cost to the owner. In twenty-four hours
the building was complete again and a collection taken to
compensate the owner for his additional losses.
Friedrich Engelmann bought a farm five miles east of
Belleville and there really lived a patriarchial life with his
wife and eight children. Some had won a high position in the
community which was due mostly to the fact that they faced
the country with full and grateful hearts and had gladly accepted
the very great difficulties and hardships with which they had
at first to contend as a not unreasonable price to pay for free-
dom and the advantage of life in America.
Frederich Hecker was one of the German intellectual im-
migrants that succeeded as a farmer. He knew nothing about
breaking in new land except that they chose the highlands
which were not swampy and free from chills and fever.
In 1818 the first German mechanics arrived and at once
began to make a living at their trade. Schmidt, Small, and
Bomman were blacksmiths and their descendants still live
here. Mr. Conrad Bornman, however, became the most success-
ful of them. Like most of the German settlers, he could hardly
speak any English. He soon gave up the blacksmith trade and
learned to make and lay brick instead. He was honest, wdlling
to learn, and a hard worker, and he soon became wealthy in
his new vocations. He became widely known because of his
irreprochable character. Bornman is believed to have been the
first German to settle in this city.
In 1833, a German named Edward Abend, arrived here and
in time became one of our most successful citizens. He was
born in Mamheim, Germany, on May 30, 1822, and came to
America with his family ten years later.
Upon their arrival in St. Louis the Asiatic Cholera was raging
and the father and two children died of that disease. The
mother, with the remaining five children, then setded on a
farm near Shiloh, Illinois, where they had friends. Here they
remained several years before finally moving to Belleville.
Young Abend received his education in the subscription
schools and at McKendree College. Upon graduating, he studied
law in the offices of Lyman and George Trumbull and was
admitted to the bar in 1842.
In 1849 he was elected to the state legislature and was
selected as one of our country's representatives on the Demo-
He foresaw that there was a greater future for him in business
than in politics, and he devoted himself, heart and soul, in
various business enterprises.
He was instrumental in the building of the first toll road
to St. Louis, which was later known as the St. Louis Turnpike.
He was the first president of our street railway, also of the Belle-
ville Water Company, which he helped organize in 1856 and
the Belleville Savings Bank which he and others organized in
Because of his ability and faithfulness to duty, he enjoyed
the confidence and respect of the people of this vicinity. They
elected him mayor for three terms, an office he filled with
credit to himself in 1851, 1857, and 1858. He died on June
17, 1904, and was buried on June 19 in Walnut Hill Ceme-
Prior to 1877, the mayor's term of office was but for one
year, necessitating an annual election. But in 1877 the Legis-
lature amended the General Law, changing their tenure to two
years. In those early days it was considered an honor to serve
as mayor; however, it was anything but lucrative. In 1854 the
salary of the mayor amounted to two hundred dollars annually.
In 1875 it was increased to six hundred dollars, but was
reduced to five hundred in 1881. Since then it has increased
until today it is $4000, and the tenure is for four years.
Peter Wilding, who came to Belleville in 1839 from Imsbach,
Rhenish Bavaria, Germany, where he was born on November
1, 1817, succeeded Edward Abend as mayor in 1859, and was re-
elected again in 1 860. He was commonly referred to as "Honest
Peter Wilding." His second administration came at a time when
political feelings were running high, and when the country
was unhappily divided on the slavery question. Along with
men like James W. Hughes, Governor Reynolds, J. L. D.
Morrison, and a number of other prominent Bellevilleans, Peter
Wilding was not only a Democrat, but throughout those tur-
bulent davs, he remained one. Like the others, he was a
states' rights advocate and he was definitely opposed to the
agitation against slavery in the North, and he did not hesitate
to say so. Entertaining such convictions, and being exposed
because of them he was forced by public opinion to resign as
mayor, which he did in June, 1860, just three months after
having won the election. Two sympathetic aldermen, Simon
Eimer and John Bieser, resigned with him. However, after the
Civil War had ended, and after its bitterness and hatreds had
been forgotten, he was again thrice elected as mayor, 1871,
1875, and 1879. He guarded the city's finances as carefully
as he did his own, usually entering office with the city saddled
with debt, and leaving it with its books balanced or its debt
After a lingering illness he died on July 10, 1881, and
was buried in Walnut Hill Cemetery, within a stone's
throw of the graves of five other pioneer mayors, namely:
Charles Palme, Edward Abend, Henry Kircher, Herman G.
Weber, and Louis Bartel.
Other later German pioneers were William C. Kueffner,
Dr. George Loelkes, Charles Merck, Joseph Leopold, William
Althoff, Col. Casimier Andel, Julius Bischoff, Martin Braun-
ersreuther, father of Commadore William Braunersreuther,
Frederick Kempff, father of Rear Admiral Louis Kempff,
Joseph Gruenwald, Bernard Hartman, August C. Hucke,
George Herr, Henry A. Kircher, Henry Kuhn, Adam Karr, Sr.,
August Lentz, John Maus, Henry Reis, Michael Reis, Frank
Renner, Dr. Ferdinand Rubach, Dr. Louis Starkel, Sr., Herman
G. Weber, William Winkelmann, George L. Neuhoff, Herman
and Henry Knoebel, Theodore Dauth, A. G. Fleischbein,
Fred E. Scheel, Solomon Mueller, O. F. Schoot, William Fried-
lander, and Louis and Philip Huff.
The Growth of Our City
n the old days, traveling was done in hacks or carriages,
usually pulled by four horses. The roads were very poor,
especially in the spring and fall at which time of the year they
seemed to be bottomless. A traditional story tells of a man, who
traveling from Belleville to St. Louis on horseback, and upon
reaching that part of the road below the Bluffs, saw a man's hat
on the ground in the middle of the road. Stopping his horse, he
got off to pick it up, only to discover there was a live man's
head under it, who at once informed him that he was still quite
all right, but that beneath him was a wagon and two horses and
they were in a bad fix.
The fourteen mile trip to St. Louis, especially that part of the
journey below the Bluffs was a trying undertaking. In 1844
the people, greatly disturbed about it, held a mass meeting at
the Court House. Here a traffic survey made by Mr. Enoch
Lucky was presented in which he reported that every day 175
to 200 teams went from Belleville to St. Louis and that 300
teams crossed by ferry to St. Louis daily.
The first ferry to operate across the Mississippi was built by
Captain James Piggot in the year 1 797. It was a simple railed-in
platform supported on log canoes and propelled by slaves by
means of poles and long sweeps.
The famed Wiggins Ferry Company was organized in 1818.
88 THE GROWTH OF OUR CITY
By 1828 the ferries operated faster and the service was much
improved, because now they were steam propelled, but never-
theless the service depended much on the whims of the river and
the weather. Western mail was often delayed for days in
Illinois, due to the antics of the Mississippi, which cut us off
from its western shore. Also, in winter when the river was fro-
zen, or partly frozen, or jammed with ice, or sometimes beset
with tiny icebergs, the ferry could not run. Then again steam
boats paddled their way from St. Louis to the foot of our Bluffs
at Edgemont during the flood of 1844. In the winter of 1856 the
river at St. Louis was so completely frozen over with sufficiently
thick ice that the heaviest teams could travel as on a macada-
John Reynolds owned a large tract of land below the Bluffs,
in the vicinity of Edgemont, only six miles from St. Louis. This
land was underlaid with coal, and Governor Reynolds, shrewd
businessman that he was, knew this, so the Old Ranger, as he
was often called, couldn't rest until he found a way of transport-
ing his hidden wealth to the market. He, therefore, decided on
building a railroad to the Mississippi River.
This railroad, the first to be built in the Mississippi Valley,
was operated by means of horse power. It had wooden rails with
straps of iron over the top. The road bed was graded, a lake
was bridged, and within one season, 1837, this line was deliver-
ing coal to East St. Louis, then known as Illinois Town.
The track was improved later when iron rails were
brought by boat, via the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. On their
arrival, holes were punched into them by the blacksmiths of
this neighborhood, who also made the spikes with which to nail
them on the wooden ties. This greatly improved the services
and more freight and passengers were carried every year. In
1862 an average of three hundred passengers per day traveled
the road. In 1859 it carried 182,184 barrels of flour; in 1862,
65 car loads of coal daily; and in 1869, 305,358 tons of coal
THE GROWTH OF OUR CITY 89
and 344,151 tons of other freight.
The second railroad established here was the Belleville and
Southern Illinois Railroad. Old-timers knew it as the St. Louis,
Alton and Terre Haute system, but later it was known as the
Cairo Short Line. Today it is part of the Illinois Central Rail-
Since early transportation was so dependent on the roads, and
with so many people living in the outlying communities, it
became necessary to find ways and means of improving these
roads. This resulted in the building of the first plank road in
1852. Farmers could now come to town in an hour or two
drawing full loads, while formerly they encountered much
difficulty even to get here with an empt)' wagon. Better roads
greatly increased business and people began to realize that the
most valuable business investment for the community was an
expenditure for better roads.
With greatly improved transportation facilities, business in
Belleville increased to such an extent that there followed a
demand for passenger ser\ace to and from St. Louis. In 1848
stage coach service to St. Louis went into effect. It left right
after breakfast, from Mr. Winter's Hotel, now called the
Belleville House, and left St. Louis at 2 p. m. from Mr. Finch's
City Lunch or, if ordered in time, from any other place in that
This new line soon became so prosperous that competing lines
were established and rate wars began to be the favorite sport
of the drivers. A new firm in 1852 cut the single fare to
twenty-five cents upon where the old line angrily cut its fare
to ten cents. In 1854 both reduced it to five cents. Improve-
ments in the service were also made, one company even going
so far as to substitute horses for mules, and heavy coaches for
lighter ones, and making the round trip in three hours instead
of taking all day.
The first express service to St. Louis began in 1854 when
90 THE GROWTH OF OUR CITY
Jacob Fouke started daily afternoon passenger and express serv-
ice, returning the same day.
The increased demand for over-land transportation now led to
a general improvement of roads. The macadamized system of
road building, named after McAdam, its inventor, was nothing
more than crushed rock held together with various binding
compounds, usually tar. It proved to be the better type road. The
first of its kind ever to be built in Illinois extended from Belle-
ville to St. Louis, a distance of fourteen miles. Before then it
was almost impossible to have produce delivered to the market
with any regularity from early fall to spring. The first rock
road constituted a portion of our present highway 15 and was
a section of the old Cahokia-Yincennes Post Road. It was the
road travelled by the early settlers from St. Louis and the
American Bottoms to Belleville.
In 1847 the state legislature approved the building of this
road to St. Louis, issued a charter to the St. Clair County
Turnpike Companv, which was to construct the road and to call
it the Rock Road. Work on it began in March, 1849, and in the
year 1850 the stretch from the river to the Bluffs was graded and
covered with rock. February, 1852, saw its completion to High
Street in our city, at a total cost of $128,000. To cover its cost,
toll gates were established and no one seemed to object. From
the standpoint of business it practically placed our city on the
banks of the Mississippi, making it a suburb of St. Louis. Resi-
dents hurriedly built along the road until now the two cities.
East St. Louis and Belleville, have joined each other at the foot
of the bluffs.
On June 12, 1902, the Belleville Turnpike, later knoun as
the Belleville and East St. Louis Rock Road, was condemned
in the city limits and its toll gates were ordered removed. Under
state law, tolls could onlv be collected outside the limits of
incorporated cities. The abolition of toll collection in the city
was hailed with joy by the people. The toll rates had been as
THE GROWTH OF OUR CITY 91
follows: bicycle, five cents; one-horse vehicle, twenty cents;
two-horse vehicle, thirty cents. As the two cities expanded the
toll limits continually shortened until by 1907 Edgemont was
incorporated and the Turnpike began dying a rapid death. On
December 10, 1910, the end came, for on that day the state
ordered the Turnpike to vacate the Rock Road.
The power of tradition is shown in the continued use of the
name. Rock Road. On October 18, 1906, the city council
changed the official name to West Main Street, but that
seemed to make no difference to the people. They insisted that
since 1850 it was the Rock Road and such it will always be to
No bridge spanned the Mississippi River, at St. Louis, al-
though traffic on both sides of it had become so heavy that one
was badly needed. The Eads Bridge, the first vehicular and
railroad bridge to span the river, was begun in 1869 and it was
believed that it would multiply many times the advantages
already found in our community. Agricultural producers would
be much closer to the markets of the West, and Belleville
would therefore be an adjunct to and a partner in the successful
growth of the Empire City of the Mississippi Valley. Gustav
Koerner was appointed as one of the attorney's for the bridge
company to handle the land claims on this side of the river. The
claims paid by the company amounted to several hundred
thousand dollars and besides the claims, many legal questions
had to be settled. The bridge was dedicated with fitting cere-
monies on July 4, 1874, with President Grant the principal
The first railroad to enter the heart of Belleville was the
Louisville and Nashville, when its first train steamed into the
cit\' in 1870. In that year also a road seven miles in length
was built from Belleville to O'Fallon. Other railroads soon fol-
lowed and today three main trunk lines pass through our city.
When the first horse-drawn street car was introduced in July,
92 THE GROWTH OF OUR CITY
1874, it was considered a major event and was celebrated with
considerable ado. On the first day of its operation five bob-tail
coaches were placed on the tracks at about 6 p.m. and free
rides between East Belleville and West Belleville were given
to ever\'body. The entire length of Main Street was gaily dec-
orated on that auspicious occasion. Thousands of people gather-
ed to witness the grand sight, for many of the younger ones
had never seen, much less heard of, a street car. So eager was
ever)'one to take a ride that a grand rush resulted, bringing
with it many aching and sore feet, and much exhausted horse
The Belleville City Railway, as the horse-car system was
known, didn't prosper financially, and eventually, in 1876, it
discontinued business, leaving the city without any service
whatever. In 1884 another attempt at re-establishing it was
made, with the result that it was again revived. By 1888 it had
five tracks, costing $32,000, nine cars (five in daily use),
twent)'-six horses, and employed fifteen men. H. A. Alexander
was its manager.
By late 1892 the old horse-drawn car was beginning to pass
from the picture. On August 21, 1893, the first permit for
electric railwav service was granted by the city council to the
General Electric Company, giving them the right to lay tracks
on Main Street from the western city limits, then known as
Cleveland Avenue, to Douglas Avenue on East Main Street, and
also on some other streets. Free rides were given on the
opening day to all, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., with regular
scheduled service beginning the next day.
With all of the increased traffic, the old wooden bridge across
the Richland Creek, on West Main Street, was doomed. It
once marked the border line between Belleville and West
Belleville, and it was the scene of many fights between rival
factions in these communities. But it had seen its day and in
1896 it was replaced by the first concrete bridge in the city.
THE GROWTH OF OUR CITY 93
This was, of course, a radical departure from the usual type
of construction, and some of the local "know-it-alls" were quite
sure it wouldn't work. They were positive that as soon as the
wooden forms were removed the concrete couldn't stand by
itself. The bridge was designed by J. B. Strauss and when he
removed the wooden forms the people were surprised that it
stood by itself. It continued to do so until 1937 when it was
torn out and the present one built. Mr. Strauss later supervised
the building of the famous Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
After being in operation a number of years, the General Elec-
tric Company sold its interests to John A. Day. Thereafter it
was commonly known as the Day Line. Its first through car
ran over the system on May 27, 1899.
At that time the city limits of Belleville extended two miles
in an east-west direction. East St. Louis and Belleville were still
separated by a distance of 140 blocks and each city maintained
its own railway system and both kept the Suburban Railway
Company out of their respective cities. Pleasure trips on the
early street cars, especially in the summer when open cars were
used, were a regular Sunday afternoon or evening recreation
and many trolley parties were given by individuals.
John Day also owned two suburban lines in addition to the
city line. On November 15, 1897, he organized a third company,
the St. Louis and Belleville Interurban Railway Company, and
began operating a line to East St. Louis in the summer of 1898.
He had hoped to buy the old St. Clair County Turnpike, which
was not in a strong financial condition at that time. However,
the owners asked such an exhorbitant price that he proceeded
instead to buy a right-of-way south of the turnpike, where he
built the Day Line. Before this was completed, Tounsend and
Reed, two Chicago promoters, arrived here and obtained the
right-of-way of the turnpike between the two cities and began
working on the Suburban Railway Line which, when com-
pleted, ran on 40-minute schedules, but Day had the advantage
94 THE GROWTH OF OUR CITY
in that he could issue transfers on his two hnes.
These two rival companies operated between Belleville and
East St. Louis until February, 1902, when a merger was effected
between the East St. Louis, Belleville and Suburban Company.
The new company became known as The East St. Louis and
Suburban Railway Company. Clark Brothers of Philadelphia
were its owners.
George L. Phillips, a grocer of 5800 West Main, drove the
first interurban electric car that entered our city, on June 14,
1898. He was also a passenger on the last trolley to enter and
leave our city on July 24, 1932, for it was on that day that the
street cars were replaced by our modern bus service. Mr. Phillips
had been a motorman on the old green cars for nine years and
for purely sentimental reasons he arose at 3:00 a.m. for the
last street car ride. He drove his automobile to Edgemont
station, boarded the last car to come from St. Louis to Belleville,
rode it back to Edgemont, and then got into his car again to
drive back home and finish his night's sleep.
The coming of the horseless carriage, or motor buggy, as it
was often called, created excitement more than any event our
city had experienced since the Civil War. Some of the people
were fearsome of the grandfather of the modern automobile
and some regarded the new-fangled contraption as a product
of the devil, that would wreck the world. When they saw one
coming along the street they shouted, "Look, here comes a
motor buggy," which is just the reverse of today, for now when
a horse appears on a street, they say, "look, here comes a horse."
The automobile was here to stay and the old storm buggy,
spring wagons, and horses began slowly to disappear.
On September 21, 1899, Mr. A. Lambrecht and wife of St.
Louis, visited our city in their automobile. The trip required
one hour and was the first vehicle of its kind to make its appear-
ance on our streets.
Purchasers of automobiles in that day always got a thorough
THE GROWTH OF OUR CITY 95
book of instructions with it. It told about the care, feeding, and
operation of the buggy. Here is an example of the details it
contained: When the motor develops a sudden knock on the
road it is perhaps due to a burned-out bearing. The thing to
do, is to stop the car at once and whittle a temporary bearing out
of wood allowing the owner to get back to town where repairs
could be made.
Mr. Henry C. Deobald, local mechanic of 316 East Main
Street, had the distinction at that time of being the only man
in the world, who rode in an automobile built by himself. He
had assembled every piece of machinery in this wonderful
specimen of mechanical art, and in August, 1901, he traveled
about our streets in a horseless carriage that was a product
of his own mind and hands. It was considered a beautiful
thing, for its panels were of maroon and scarlet, while the
running gear was neatly striped black. It was six feet long, four
feet high, and thirty inches wide, and was made entirely of
metal. The body was made of sheet metal, lined with asbestos
and coupled with pieces of angle iron which made it all the
more substantial. The engine was beneath the seat and was
of the steam type, always giving the driver a hot spot to sit on.
It had two cylinders, was five horse-power, and the inventor
contended that it would do fifty miles per hour. The water
for the steam engine was heated by gasoline, while the gas
tank had a capacity of five gallons and developed enough
steam for a fifty-mile trip. The air tank was made of copper,
and held forty pounds of pressure, which was used to force the
gas from the tank to the generator where it supplied gas as fuel
in making the steam. It took only four minutes to get enough
steam to start the car.
Early speed laws differed greatly from those of today. The
city tax records of 1904 shows that we had four automobiles
in our city. The city, therefore, passed a speed law allowing
them to travel only ten miles per hour in business districts and
fifteen miles per hour in residential districts.
96 THE GROWTH OF OUR CITY
It was in 1909 that a local dairy with deserving pride,
announced that it had bought the first auto delivery wagon in
the city. Dealers in automobiles were slowly becoming more
numerous and more varied. Even Sears, Roebuck sold them
from 1896 to 1908, and their price was usually $1,000 without
accessories. The electric automobile was the one preferred by
the rich and the price range of these was anywhere from two
to three thousand dollars.
By 1915 the city council began regulating the cars due to
their ever-growing numbers. A city ordinance was passed fixing
the power of headlights so that they would not throw a beam
of light more than thirty feet. In 1916 all cars were required
by a city law to have red tail lights and in 1917, in order to
avoid confusion, the city council insisted that all cars must keep
to the right on the Public Square. On May 1, 1914, the city
required every car owner to possess a city license, the cost,
from four to ten dollars, depending on the horse-power of the
car. In 1942 Belleville people owned 5459 pleasure cars and
With the coming of the automobile came the demand for
the paving of the Rock Road, and the greater the number of
automobiles, the greater became the demand. The city ordinance
providing for the paving of the Rock Road with concrete from
the Southern crossing to Edgemont, a distance of five miles,
was passed on January 5, 1915. It provided that the car tracks
of the East St. Louis and Suburban Railroad be moved to the
center of the roadway and that the company pave the center
for a width of twenty-one feet with macadam and chat, flush
with the street. It was estimated that the total cost of this
improvement would be $322,000.
On March 20, 1916, the actual work on that paving project
began in Belleville, when Mayor R. E. Duvall, L. C. Harper
of East St. Louis, and Phillip Reeb turned the first spadeful
of earth. This undertaking had been a vital question in Belle-
THE GROWTH OF OUR CITY 97
ville for years and about 150 people attended the ceremony.
Reverend C. R. Hempel, then pastor of the Christ Evangelical
Church, invoked the divine blessing on the occasion.
On October 30, 1917, the Rock Road was completely paved
with concrete and was regarded as having been the biggest
single improvement ever undertaken by any Southern Illinois
city up to that time. Because the material was concrete, the
Portland Cement Association joined with the city in the de-
dication exercices. The cement association erected two concrete
pillars at the western end of the roadway as suitable monuments
to the undertaking. At 1:30 p.m. three bombs were sent up
from the Square to mark the official opening of the dedication
ceremonies. A parade was held, headed by Mayor Duvall.
Addresses were made by the Mayor; S. E. Bradt, Superintendent
of Highways of Illinois; Captain E. R. Kinsen, President of
the Board of Public Service of St. Louis; Mayor Mollman of
East St. Louis; and Benjamin Franklin Affleck formerly of
Belleville, then an official of the Portland Cement Company
The advent of smooth concrete highways spelled the doom
of the old plank road. Last of these to go was the Belleville-
Smithton Road in 1917. Plank roads were always in need of
repair, their tolls were a nuisance with the newer ways of travel,
and their type was no longer satisfactory. In 1915, the Good
Roads Booster Club was organized and the old plank roads
were, one by one, thrown open to the public. First the fees
were no longer collected and then the township assumed con-
trol. By 1919 our program of concrete highway construction
was in full swing.
A daring professor, in gaily colored tights, v.as in all
probability the first man ever to leave the solid ground of our
city to soar towards the clouds above. This event took place at
the old fairgrounds, where a balloon ascension thrilled the local
citizenry and stirred their vivid imaginations to the day when
98 THE GROWTH OF OUR CITY
man would rule the air. The balloon used was rather
primitive in construction, which was all the more reason for
making the spectators' hearts tremble in suspense, until the
daring aviator had made a safe landing, which he did by
narrowly missing spearing himself on the pointed steeple of
the Presbyterian Church on South High Street.
Presumably what was scheduled to be the first airplane flight
here was that to take place in the summer of 1911, when it had
been announced that Professor Joyce would make daily flights
at the County Fair. The public was assured that the "human
bird" was thoroughly familiar with the working and the
operation of his plane, and that when the ship was not in flight,
it would be on exhibition. For the small sum of ten cents, one
could get a close view of it. It was heralded as one of the old
type Curtiss biplanes with huge, monstrous landing wings
and the aviator had to perch himself perilously in the open
nose of the ship.
Having had their curiosity aroused through advanced an-
nouncement of its coming to the fair, ten thousand people
gathered there the first day to see it and to watch the take-off.
But they were sorely disappointed for the aviator did not make
his appearance and the nearest thing to an airplane that they
saw was a stretch of white canvass around a framework that
was supposed to be an airplane. There was no motor nor pilot,
and it cost a dime to see this contraption.
The first real airplane to reach the city limits of Belleville
was flown by Professor Janis from St. Louis to Ogle Station
in 1912. He had intended to fly to the Fair Grounds to attend
the Retail Merchants Picnic on the Fourth of July, but on the
first leg of his trip, which took him to Edgemont he was forced
down because of a bad cylinder. He repaired it only to be
forced down again at Ogle Station, when another cylinder
went bad. Being unable to repair this one in time, he boarded
the street car to the picnic. But now, at least, an airplane had
THE GROWTH OF OUR CITY 99
actually landed on Belleville soil.
Other means of transportation available here now are three
railroad trunk lines, namely, the Illinois Central, Louisville
and Nashville, and Southern Railroads. These have connections
with 28 carriers that terminate in St. Louis and carry our pro-
ducts all over the world. There are five local freight, 15 local
passenger, and 22 through freight trains on these three trunk
lines daily. Besides these, air mail, air express, and air travel
are also available to us due to our nearness to the St. Louis
On July 29, 1929, the new St. Louis-Belleville Highway 13
was opened for traffic. This shortened the distance between
the two cities and it was estimated that the automobile owners
would save $122,750 a year using it. It is now being supplement-
ed by a four-lane super-highway No. 460.
In 1926 busses were substituted for street cars by the East
St. Louis and Suburban Railway and in 1932 the East St.
Louis and Interurban Railway discontinued service between
Belleville and St. Louis largely because of competition from the
Purple Swan Coach and Blue Goose Motor Coach Companies.
The Belleville-St. Louis Coach Company was organized and
began operations on August 30, 1933, succeeding the East St.
Louis and Suburban Railway Company and absorbed the
coach companies. It began with eleven busses, while
today it has a total of forty-three in service, and employs
seventy-five employees of which all but ten are drivers. They
began with four routes in the city and a St. Louis route. Today
it has added one more route in the city and makes regular
runs to Scott Field. Through affiliated companies it operates
service to most nearby communities and to other lines passing
through our city, thereby connecting us with all parts of the
Its rates have been drastically reduced. The fare to St. Louis
was 45 cents, but today is only 30 cents. The city fare was
100 THE GROWTH OF OUR CITY
a dime under the old company but it was cut to five cents
by the new firm. The company is composed entirely of local
men and they own nearly all of its $120,000 capital stock.
Besides buying new busses the company has purchased a ter-
minal on the Public Square and a garage at Main and 4th
Streets. J. L. Wellinghoff is its president, James W. Bedwell
is vice-president, Earl Crocker secretar)', and Arnold Breitweiser
is the treasurer. It makes 90 round trips to St. Louis every day
beginning at 4:20 a.m. until 3:10 a.m. Busses leave every
fifteen minutes except during the rush hours at which time
they leave every six minutes.
We are located 14 miles from one of the greatest internal
water svstems in the world. We are connected bv rail, truck,
and bus with the navigable streams and canals of the Mississippi,
Missouri, and Ohio Rivers which total 13,394 miles. This sys-
tem joins by water twenty states with a population of more
than fifty million people. On this river system long-haul freight
ser\ices are operated bv the Federal Barge Line and the short
haul is done by local packet lines. Our local trading area
extends eight miles north, forty miles south, thirty miles east
and seven miles west. Since we are located in the St. Louis
metropolitan district our cost of living is fifteen per cent lower
than cities of the same size not in a similar area.
In 1816, two years after Belleville was founded, the village
had grown large enough to justify the establishment of a post
office. It was called Bellvill-Illinois Territory Post Office
(notice lack of the letter "E" in Belleville, which was added
later.) It was officially opened on March 14, 1816, with Post
Master James P. Estes in charge.
Correspondence was not indulged in then as extensively as
it is today, due perhaps to the high postal rates. Postage
was figured according to distance instead of weight and a
THE GROWTH OF OUR CITY 101
single letter to Lexington, Kentucky, required eighteen cents
in postage. If it consisted of two sheets, or an envelope, its
cost doubled, making it cost thirty-seven cents. A single letter
from Belleville to New York cost twenty-five cents, while from
here to St. Louis it took six cents.
On February 1, 1849, the following notice appeared in a
local newspaper, "Mail lost." Then followed an explanation
telling that the Eastern mail had been lost on Monday, while
crossing Shoal Creek. The coach had been lost and the four
horses had drowned, illustrating that the pioneer postal service,
with its strictly theoretical mail schedules, was dependent upon
the whims of nature. Two things, contributing to the great
postal handicap in the early days, was the price of postage and
the difficulties of travel during the winter months, when there
were days and even weeks at a time when the mail could
not be delivered.
In pioneer days, the only mail carriers we had were ones that
carried the mail from one citv to another. One of these was
young Col. J. L. D. Morrison, who carried the mail from
Kaskaskia to its surrounding cities, including Belleville. For this
he rode a French pony, making the trips in a prompt and
In 1844, Belleville was fortunate enough to be on the Great
Western Mail Route, which carried the mail from the East
to the West. Beginning then, a four-horse mail stage passed
through the village every day. This provided unusually good
mail service and added another asset to the growing community.
In 1845, the postal rates were changed and greatly reduced.
The charge now was five cents on letters of less than one half
ounce for the first three hundred miles and ten cents for mail
beyond that distance. In 1849 a uniform rate of three cents
for the first half ounce, regardless of distance, plus six cents
for ever}' additional one half ounce, was adopted.
As the amount of mail increased, it had to be carried between
102 THE GROWTH OF OUR CITY
cities by means of coaches. Here again the difficulty of bad
roads had to be confronted. The only carriers who could get
through were those on horse back, but these carried only a small
amount of mail. No one worried, however, not even the post
master, for they knew that sooner or later it would arrive and
depart regularly and on time when the roads improved. Still
more serious than the bottomless roads, were the antics of the
Mississippi River, which with methodical regularity, threw the
schedule out of line. When the river went on a rampage,
which it usually did in the spring and fall, the ferry could not
cross with the mail to or from St. Louis. Neither could it in
winter when it was filled with floating ice, all of which was
a contributing factor towards the building of a bridge across
the Mississippi. When, in 1874, the Eads Bridge was opened
to traffic our city was no longer cut off from St. Louis by the
whims of weather.
Free carrier service to homes became a reality on July 1,
1887. The city was divided into four districts and a carrier
appointed for each one. Twenty-seven mail boxes were placed
at convenient points throughout the city and collections were
made at regular intervals. The citizens were very grateful for
this action, which made our city one of the thirty-six in the state
to have this kind of service.
The appointment of a new postmaster, by President Lincoln
on January 9, 1865, started a custom that we occasionally follow.
It was in that year that Colonel Hugo Wangelin became the
postmaster. In 1894 his son Irvin H. Wangelin received the
appointment by President Cleveland. Our last postmaster Her-
man G. Wangelin was appointed to that position by Franklin D.
Roosevelt, December 31, 1934, and is the third generation of
the family to hold that office. Our present postmaster Eugene
Brauer was appointed by President Harry Truman.
In the early days, the location of the Post Office didn't
remain static very long, for it was moved from time to time.
THE GROWTH OF OUR CITY 103
On March 14, 1846, it was moved to the brick building where
Governor Reynolds had his law office; on May 5, 1858, it was
moved directly west of the National Hotel; on February 5,
1859, it was moved to the Belleville House; on September 12,
1863, it was moved to Main and High; on April 30, 1869, it
was moved back to the Belleville House; on July 4, 1873, it
was moved to High and Washington; on January 23, 1899, a
contract was let to equip a new post office in the building
now used as a bus station, on the northeast comer of the
Square; on May 8, 1903, it was moved to the northwest comer
of the Square in the Lorey Building, now occupied by the
Stiehl Dmg Company; on November 11, 1911, it moved to
its new $100,000 building, located on the northwest comer of
"A" and First Streets.
The postmasters, who served, and the day they took office
were as follows: March 14, 1816, James P. Estes; September
10, 1819, Richard Groves; July 23, 1822, John Ringold; May
23, 1823, James Mitchell; November 28, 1839, Charles Sargent;
November 26, 1840, James M. Reynolds; May 10, 1841, James
Mitchell; July 3, 1845, William Snyder; October 1, 1849,
James Mitchell; June 15, 1853, Champness Ball; October 5,
1858, James W. Hughes; March 27, 1861, Sharon Tyndale;
January 9, 1865, Colonel Hugo Wangelin; March 11, 1873,
Francis M. Taylor; June 13, 1877, Henry G. Millitizer; January
17, 1882, John B. Hay; March 1, 1886, Colonel Adolph
Engelmann; Febmary 14, 1890, James B. Willoughby; April 5,
1894, Irvin H. Wangelin; October 8, 1898, John E. Thomas;
January 18, 1907, Cyms Thompson; Febmary 21, 1912, Louis
Opp; August 1, 1913, Philip H. Sopp; May 8, 1922, Louis
Opp; May 9, 1926, Herman Semmelroth; December 31, 1934,
Herman G. Wangehn; October 19, 1950, Eugene Brauer.
In April of 1940 the Belleville office opened a branch at
Scott Field to serve the military personnel stationed there. From
a small room in the Headquarters building the facilities have
grown to where a post office building now houses the postal
104 THE GROWTH OF OUR CITY
business in the first area with branches in the 2nd and 3rd
Besides its many postal duties, the post office also issues
and cashes money orders, sells U. S. Savings Bonds and Stamps,
conducts a Postal Savings Bank and represents the United States
Civil Service Commission in this area.
All postal employees are under civil service. The pay for
regular clerks and carriers starts at $2670 a year based on a
forty-hour week. The pay for substitutes is one dollar and thirty-
one cents per hour with no work week specified. Today there
are ninety-seven employees at the Belleville and Scott Field
offices. In addition to the Postmaster there are eight supervisors,
thirty-one regular clerks, thirty-eight regular carriers, six sub-
stitute clerks, six substitute carriers, three rural route carriers,
one special delivery messenger, and three custodial managers.
The city is served by twenty-seven carrier routes and three rural
routes serve the surrounding rural area. Four Star routes origin-
ate at this office.
The postal receipts have increased from practically nothing
in 1816 to $352,581.19 in 1949. In this same year the cancel-
lations on first class mail reached an all time high of over
Just as in all other communities, Belleville, too, had no
regular water system, but depended entirely on private wells
and the town pump, which was located on the Public Square.
The water supply was as good as nature provided and, with
the public well on the Square, was sufficient for the needs in
All went well until the summer of 1854 when the rainfall
was so negligible that many of the private wells went dry. To
prevent the hoarding of water, the town pump was locked
THE GROWTH OF OUR CITY 105
after a msh threatened to empty it. Many citizens objected to
this so vehemently that one night the lock was smashed to
pieces and a written notice was posted, declaring the pump to
be a free institution, and that such "know-nothing proceedings,"
as that of putting it under lock and chain, would not be tolerated
by those who love both freedom and water.
The demand for water continued to increase and in June,
1860, another public well was sunk on the Market Square and
the water from it was declared to be of excellent quality.
The water of Richland Creek supplied most of the industries
located along its banks, but it soon became evident that it was
not the right thing to use in steam engines, for it sometimes
produced dire results for the boilers.
With the growth of our city, it became evident that a greater
supply of water was needed if we hoped to invite additional
industry and then to keep its wheels turning.
In the past, many lakes had been built, additional shallow
and deep wells had been sunk in the American Bottoms, but
all of them furnished an insufficient amount of water and we
were constantly searching for a greater supply. The deep well
water came from a stratum known as St. Peters Sand and was
of excellent quality but of insufficient quantity to satisfy the
ever growing demand. Some of the wells at the foot of the
bluffs contained water of an inferior quality and many berated
those responsible for foisting this product upon the city as pure
water. Even school officials contended it was unfit for pupils
Although Belleville never had a real water famine, there
were times when the supply of water was rather low. Many
futile attempts had been made before an unlimited supply of
water was finally secured. The old story from the town pump
to water from the Mississippi River is a long and hard one.
Many fruitless starts had been made for a more adequate
water supply and company after company had been incorporated
106 THE GROWTH OF OUR CITY
but they all failed, until in 1855 when a city-wide water system
In April, 1885, the digging of the trench and the laying of
the pipe for the proposed water works got under way. To
Edward Abend, president of the company, went the honor to
head the elaborate ceremony held on the Public Square that
marked the beginning of this water works. He also had the
honor of breaking the macadam with a pick thereby starting
the ditch in which the pipes were laid. In his address he de-
clared, that for twenty years, he had been working for the very
thing they were about to witness, the breaking of the ground
for a water system. Mayor Herman G. Weber threw out the
first shovel full of dirt and congratulated the people that what
they had long before hoped for, and wished for, was soon to
become a reality.
The new company constructed a reservoir water system in
the Richland Creek bottoms north of our city. The storage
reservoir had a capacity of forty million gallons, a filtering
reservoir held one million gallons and a distributing reservoir
held three million gallons. When these were completed, the
city was very proud of the improvements that had been made,
but as our city continued to grow and as more homes and
industries were built, the supply again became inadequate.
In 1888 the company began work on the thirty-acre reservoir
now known as Lake Christine. By 1890 the supply again be-
came so low that factories were forced to close down during
some of the summer months. In 1893 the company had a third
reservoir, this one known as Lake No. 3, but today as Lake
Lorraine, with a 70,000,000 gallon capacity. Lake Christine
held 120,000,000 gallons and the first reservoir that
had been built held 40,000,000 more gallons making a total
of 230,000,000 gallons. These lakes, large as they were, could
not cope with the growing demands. Then in 1897, the Deep
Well Water Works Company was organized. It absorbed the
THE GROWTH OF OUR CITY 107
old lake system of the previous firm and sank a series of
artesian wells, 500 feet deep, at the foot of Water Tower Hill
at the south end of the city.
However, again by 1908, a new and greater water supply
had become absolutely necessary and therefore seven wells
were sunk in the American Bottoms, near the village of Edge-
mont, and a pumping station was erected there. These wells
furnished an abundance of water that was seemingly pure and
healthful, but of such hard quality, that our people hesitated
to use it.
By 1912, there loomed another shortage of water and a new
source was again sought. It was decided in that year, that the
Mississippi River was the only solution to our water problem.
So a water main was built, which connected with the East St.
Louis Water Company. The pumping station at Edgemont was
used to force the water up to Belleville's altitude.
The shallow wells, the reservoirs, the deep wells, and those
in the American Bottoms, were all abandoned now and on
September 12, 1912, our water system was connected with
that in East St. Louis. Today we are supplied with the in-
exhaustible Mississippi River water flowing into our water
The East St. Louis and Interurban Water Company supplies
not only our city, but also eighteen other municipalities. Water
is taken from the Mississippi River, opposite and below where
the Missouri river enters it at the rate of 30,000,000 gallons
every twenty-four hours, of which Belleville uses 5,000,000
gallons a day. The Company's purification and pumping plants
are so arranged that they can be readily expanded to provide
any demand which may be made upon them by the community
served. Belleville has two supply lines, both twelve inches
in diameter, from the Edgemont pumping station, which assures
us continuous service. A stand pipe and reservoir provide storage
facilities, and a tank also affords storage at Edgemont. The
108 THE GROWTH OF OUR CITY
city is well piped with distribution lines and fire hydrants,
giving assurance of water facilities and fire protection. The
average pressure maintained at the pumping station is seventy-
five pounds, but the average throughout the system is fifty
pounds. The manager of the Belleville branch today is E. S.
Our city has also built a sewage disposal system adequate to
take care of a population of fifty thousand as soon as the inter-
cepting sewer and treatment plants are completed.
DEVELOPMENT OF OUR FIRE DEPARTMENT
Belleville's efficient fire department is the outgrowth of over
one hundred years of good service. It was in 1841 that the first
fire department was organized under the name of the Illinois
Town Fire Company. It was located on South Jackson Street
in the identical place where Engine House No. 1 now stands.
Early fire engines were very different from those of today.
The first one was bought in New York and shipped by water
to St. Louis via New Orleans, and from there it was sent over
land to Belleville. It was a crude, hand-drawn and hand-pumped
affair, very small in size when compared to our modern ones.
It soon proved too small to serve the ever growing needs of our
population, which by 1844 numbered 1,964.
To meet the increasing demand for fire fighting equipment
a second engine was bought in 1844 at a cost of $400. Similar
to the first one, it too, was a hand-drawn and hand-pumped
affair. It was a great improvement over the old bucket brigade,
the only means of fighting fire in the early days, although it
still was handicapped, in that it was hand-drawn and couldn't
be moved very fast. As an inducement to those pulling the fire
engine to get to the scene of the fire in as short a time as
possible, the Village Board in 1848 offered a reward of two
dollars for the first water cart to arrive there and one dollar
to the one that arrived second.
THE GROWTH OF OUR CITY 109
In 1848 Volunteer Fire Company No. 2 was organized and
by 1852 the city had a total fire department consisting of 89
men, incredible as that may seem. This second organization
later changed its name to Union Company. To better equip
them for fire fighting, a popular subscription of $100 was raised,
and the Village Board agreed to buy fifty Indian rubber buckets
at $1.75 each. Both engines were used only for pumping water
out of the wells in cases of fire. The additional buckets added
to the efficiency of the department.
Through the help of A. C. Heinzelman, a member of the
Village Board, a third volunteer fire company was organized on
April 27, 1859, and was called the Washington Company. In
1861 George Heinzelman was elected its captain and it was
then that its name was changed to The Invincible No. 3.
The Village Board bought a new lire engine for them costing
$600. The three rival companies had such distinguished names
as St. Clair No. 1; Illinois No. 2; and Invincible No. 3.
With improved pumping equipment, a greater source of water
supply had to be obtained, so in 1865 the city engineer was
requested by the City Board to plan for the construction of
24 cisterns, each holding 1,000 barrels of water, and which
were to cost about $52 each. These cisterns were not to be
over 600 feet apart so that 300 feet of hose, attached to the
pump, would reach a cistern anywhere in the city.
As time went on the names of the three departments again
underwent a change. Company 1, located at Freeburg and
South Charles and East Grant streets, became the South Belle-
ville Company; Engine House No. 2, located on the northeast
corner of Illinois and B streets became the St. Clair Volunteers,
while Engine House No. 3, located at South Jackson and Wash-
ington streets became known as the Illinois Volunteers.
It was in 1872, that the Union Fire Company opened its
new engine house on Jackson street. This building was 29 by
50 feet, two stories, walls 13 inches thick and well braced with
110 THE GROWTH OF OUR CITY
iron. It was designed by William Hess and built by Charles
Dehnent, The vacant lot in the rear which measured 60 by
200 feet was beautified with trees and shrubbery.
The City Council bought the first steam fire engine and at its
trial run had enough steam to pump water 120 feet into the
air from a one and one-half inch nozzle and for a distance of
270 feet from a two and three-fourth inch nozzle. It was
claimed that this was the first engine of its kind in the mid-
west and our city was very proud of the water throwing ability
of its first steam fire engine.
By 1878 the Belleville Fire Department had changed from
a volunteer department to one on a salary basis. The firemen
received from $5 to $70 a month, the last being the salary for
the fire chief. The firemen were still able to proceed with their
private business, but were subject to instant call by the city
at the ringing of a bell.
On January 8, 1886, the City Council raised their salaries.
That of the hosemen was fixed at ten dollars per month, and
five dollars for their first hour, and two dollars for each
additional hour, while fighting a fire. Assistant hosemen re-
ceived eight dollars per month and four dollars for the first
hour, and two dollars for each additional hour while helping
fight a fire.
In 1878 a hook and ladder wagon made in St. Louis, was
purchased, and it was equipped with new and improved chemi-
cal fire extinguishers, that could be used on small fires. The city
was now divided into five equal districts and an electrical alarm
system was established. The twenty-one alarm boxes were rented
from the Electric Company at twelve dollars and fifty cents per
On September 22, 1916, the first fire engine, fully equipped
for fighting small fires, was received. One month later it
answered its first call to a fire one and one-half miles away,
covering the distance in three minutes. On January 29, 1931,
THE GROWTH OF OUR CITY 111
our most recent fire engine house, located at 5900 West Main
Street, was opened to Fire Engine Crew No. 3. It was erected
there to serve the Rock Road district west of 35th Street. Today
Belleville receives fire protection from three well-located fire
stations. A total of twenty-six men are employed, and the
equipment consists of seven motorized units. Our losses by fires
have been reduced to the minimum and compare favorably
with those of any other city in the state. In recent years. Fire
Prevention Week has been duly observed during the first week
in October. The one held in 1937 fittingly displayed wooden
tombstones inscribed as follows: (1) I smoked in bed; (2)
I cleaned with gasoline; (3) I started a fire with kerosene;
(4) I didn't clean my chimney; and (5) Waste paper and
rags were piled in the attic of my house.
The real estate and hose equipment of our fire department
is valued at $150,000. Its firemen are well trained and while
at work they furnish an excellent example of individual re-
sponsibility combined with group cooperation. They have been
trained to use and not to loose their heads.
The members of the Fire Department in 1950 were: Fire
Chief, Albert Nebgen, Edward Falcetti, Frank Resch, James
Paxon, Fred Thompson, Fred Bruss, Emil Zinser, John Finklein,
Earl Ritzheimer, John Wade, Phihp Klotz, Frank Hart, Emil
Seiler, Ervin Schmitz, Frank Bader, Wilbur Rodenmeyer, Robert
Sauer, Richard Kensinger, Edward Hock, John Chouinard,
Edward Wilson, Charles Braun, Clarence List, Robert Walta,
Floyd Schmitz, Norman Schlesinger, Raymond Daesch, Clar-
ence Halcomb and three deskmen, Ewald Henke, Edward Ro-
denmeyer, and Emil Hackenbruch.
As far back as 1814, when Belleville was first organized as
a village, it had its officer of the law, a constable, as he was
known in those days, and he was the entire municipal law.
112 THE GROWTH OF OUR CITY
Although at times exposed to danger, his pay was meager, for
it consisted only of his share of the fines or fees collected for
"I'll call the law," was not heard as frequently in that day
as it is now, because calling the law then was a difficult matter.
The entire law was centered in the constable and the law was
wherever he was, and sometimes the question was, where was
It was one thing for the constable to get his man but it was
an entirely different problem to get him safely to the jail.
Sometimes he and his victim became quite well acquainted as
they walked to the Police Station. Sometimes some citizen,
chancing to be driving by, would give them a lift. Again if no
hack appeared, the prisoner, whose offense was nothing more
in many instances than being drunk, would have to be carried
to the jail on a house shutter, or given a ride on a wheel
barrow, or a forced walk.
If the occasion demanded it, there was, of course, a major
county law officer, the sheriff, to lend a helping hand to the
Thieving and burglary were our most serious local problems
and to combat these a volunteer watch was organized, its
members taking turns at patrolling the streets at night. This
was far from pleasant work on the unlighted streets, especially
on a dark and rainy night. The night patrol, however, did
much good because many of the suspicious characters who had
long infested our city were soon driven out. Because of its
good work, the night patrol was looked upon with great favor
by the people.
The constable's work increased with the growth of the
community and in 1850 the office of City Marshall was created.
Legend has it that the Marshall was supposed to be tall, have
a mustache, and wear a blue serge suit with the trouser legs
stuffed into black boots. At first he did not receive a regular
THE GROWTH OF OUR CITY 113
salary but had to depend upon fines and fees for his financial
reward. His good work was soon rewarded by regular pay, ample
enough to permit him to devote his entire time and energy
to the job.
As late as 1850 promenading porkers were found on the city's
streets, but then the City Council passed an ordinance per-
mitting the Marshall to charge a $3 fee from their respective
owners whenever they came to reclaim a hog.
In 1854 the City Council voted to give the city marshall help
by appointing a deputy marshall for each of the four wards
which then made up the city. This was still insufficient as
shown by the crime wave we had in the latter months of 1865.
Four special policemen were appointed for the four wards at
a salary of $75 a month. This force of night police was the
nucleus from which the first regular organized police force in
Belleville grew. By the ordinance of 1867 the department con-
sisted of— a city marshall, chief of police, a captain of the
night police, and four policemen. By 1890, there were 12—
a city marshall, a night police captain, a sergeant, and nine
policemen. In 1913, there were 15 policemen, and in 1939
there were 21 members comprising the department. In 1951
it totalled 35 members.
In May, 1913, the city bought its first motorcycle for the
police department. Others were soon added until today the
department boasts of seven motorized units, equipped squad
cars and motorcycles.
On July 7, 1887, a "hoodlum wagon," known as the famed
"Black Maria" was bought at a cost of $234. It was a wagon
of effulgent splendor, decorated in a bright coat of red paint,
with gilded lettering and brass lamps and it seated six occupants
with ease. It was used by the city until 1921 when it was re-
placed by the modern way of hauling prisoners to jail, namely
the patrol car. The patrol wagon was sold in that year to the
highest bidder, which was $42.50, and it was wrecked as junk
on June 18, 1929.
114 THE GROWTH OF OUR CITY
With the coming of the telephone, the pohce department
was one of the first to be equipped with it. In 1921, the
effectiveness of the system was gready increased, when twenty-
one telephones were placed at strategic points throughout the
city to form the first police alarm system in our city. These
have since been replaced by a radio station in 1937, use of which
enables police to be at hand within a few minutes after a
crime has been committed.
Police are given special schooling in personal defense, in
jujitsu handling of prisoners, in hand-cuffing and searching,
in writing and interpreting reports, in types of crimes, in clues
that should be followed up, blood tests, death masks, taking
foot prints, tire tracks and finger printing. The instructors are
usually members of the police force, who were trained for this
work by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. A local police
school was started in 1938 and is today equipped with an out-
door shooting range where both slow and rapid fire shooting
is practiced with shot guns, pistols, and sub-machine guns.
Today there are thirty-four men, including the health officers,
chief, captain, sergeant and heutenant, in the department.
Finger printing is regarded today as very essential in police
work. All persons arrested for major crimes are finger printed
and copies thereof are sent to Washington, where a permanent
record is kept. This department consists of a Laten finger print-
ing set, which contains printer's ink, printing cards, card holders,
inking pad, powder, lifting tab, and a filing cabinet. It is also
equipped to take plaster casts of foot, tire and bar marks.
The police squad cars are equipped with transmitters, receiv-
ing set and sending sets, and powerful search lights. They are
armed with guns, carry first aid kits, and cruise over the entire
city at all times and are used chiefly in making invesdgations.
The police motorcycles carry a receiving set but no sending set.
Their chief duty is to watch traffic, listen to the police broad-
casts and be ready for any emergency.
THE GROWTH OF OUR CITY 115
The police broadcasting station is fully and completely
equipped. Squad cars, cruising the city, report their location
to the station at regular intervals.
Today's police force is divided into three shifts: (1) 7 a.m.
to 3 p.m., with Chief of Police Reese Dobson and Lieutenant
Walter Ruebel in charge; (2) 3 p.m. to 1 1 p.m., with Sergeant
Clarence Hassal; (3) 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. under Captain Frank
The police force today consists of 10 officers and 24 patrol-
men.. They are as follows: Chief: Reese Dobson; Captain:
Frank Riesenberger; Lieutenant: Walter Ruebel; Sergeants:
Robert Bell, Clarence Hassall and Clarence Mullett; Corporals:
Herbert Kaltenbronn, Andrew Kirkwood, Paul Klincar and
Norman Simonin; Licence Collector: Walter Magin; Police-
men: David Beese, Frank Bott, Raymond Butzinger, Charles
Groom, Monroe Hodo, Oscar Joffray, Fred Johnson, Emil
Kluge, Milton Kroenig, Richard Kurrus, George Lawrence,
Elmer Lehman, Walter Magin, William McEvers, William
Mertens, Jr., William Mertens, Sr., Percy Miller, Wallace
Miller, Fred Moessinger, Hugo Paule, Melvin Poniske, William
Rutherford, John Smith and Raymond Sterthman.
Public Buildings 1814-1942
\^J^ ne of the principal buildings of former times was the
Market House, located on the Public Square, in which all
meats and groceries were sold. The law then not only required
that all foods had to be sold here, but went so far as to fix
the market hours, and to forbid the selling of fresh beef, pork,
veal, lamb, or mutton in less quantity than a quarter. A farmer,
however, was exempt from this law and could sell his home-
cured bacon, sausage, and other meats at any time and any
A market master presided over all activities of the market,
and it was also his duty to direct farmers to keep the market
clean, to preserve order and to suppress fights.
A city ordinance of 1855 prohibited any person from tying
or hitching a horse to the Market House, and made it a mis-
demeanor to lead an animal into the Market House, to sleep
on the tables, to threaten the market master, to allow dogs to
follow one through the market, or to throw melon rinds or
garbage about. Corn meal, hominy, oats, potatoes, turnips,
carrots, apples, peaches, and other vegetables and fruits had to
be packed either in pints, quarts, gallons, pecks, or half bushels.
Butter had to be sold in one-half, one, two, and three pound
rolls, and penalties were set for any unfair measures and weights.
The butcher stalls in the Market House were auctioned off
LOCAL INSTITUTIONS 117
for a term of one year on the first Monday in April. One-half
the rent had to be paid in advance. Those seJling vegetables
and farm produce paid the market master a sum of five dollars
and had to provide themselves with a suitable bench or table.
It became the duty of the market master to protect these tables
and benches from being damaged and to see to it that they
were occupied by their rightful owners only. Outside the market,
in the Market Square, a two-horse wagon could occupy a space
for 20 cents daily, a one-horse wagon for 10 cents, and a
basket-seller for 5 cents.
Having outlived its usefulness, the old Market House on
the Square was sold for $29.00, and a new Market Square
located between Illinois and High streets, extending east of
the present Bell Telephone building, was provided. It was
bought by the city in 1885 from J. Mitchell and J. Thomas for
$4,228.00. The lot adjoining the Market Square with a frontage
of twenty-eight feet on A Street, was also acquired by the city
from S. B. Chandler.
The new Market House was opened for business on July 1,
1857, well supplied with foods of all kind at very moderate
prices. Belleville was indeed proud of its new market for the
city contended it was the best market house in the state.
The market flourished, and for years it continued to be
favored with protective legislation by the various city coun-
cils. An ordinance had been passed which prohibited the selling
of food outside the Market House by others during market
hours. It was no uncommon sight to see the proud, masculine
heads of some of the leading families doing the family shopping.
Usually a young son accompanied them to carry the laden
basket home, while their elders went on to the day's business.
The hucksters sold their wares from crude, wooden tables
that lined the street edge of the sidewalk, over which a pro-
tective porch had been built. Their wagons or buggies were
backed up against the curb, making unloading easy.
118 LOCAL INSTITUTIONS
In 1890 a new ordinance permitted grocers with fixed es-
tablishments to do business while the market was open, but
peddling of vegetables or fruits, was not allowed during market
Prominent among butchers who occupied the indoor stalls
of the Market House, were Jacob Bischof, Sr., John Thebus,
and Henry A. Heinemann.
With the coming of the corner grocery store the city market
began to decline. The first to abandon it were the butchers,
and by 1900 hucksters, too, had almost entirely faded from the
picture. In that year the street department, looking for storage
room, took over the Market House and used it as a street
railway freight depot. In it were housed also the street rollers
and other equipment. By this time it had already become known
as the Street Roller House. Thus it remained until it was torn
down by the city in November, 1934, and the premises turned
into a parking lot. With the market's disappearance, the corner
grocery store began to flourish, but its existence, too, is being
threatened today by the chain grocery stores.
Although Belleville had a post office since 1814, it wasn't
until almost a hundred years later that a permanent post office
was built by the federal government and completed in 1911.
Its dedication was a major event, wdth the public invited to
inspect the new building. In the receiving line were Congress-
man W. A. Rodenberg, who was responsible for securing the
building. Mayor Fred J. Kern, and Postmaster Cyrus Thompson.
An addition to the Post Office building in 1923 measured
33 by 69 feet and provided an additional 2000 square feet
of floor space to be used as a work room and mailing vestibule.
Because of its central location, Belleville had replaced Caho-
kia as the county seat of St. Clair county. Since no special
building had as yet been erected to serve as a court house, a
long narrow one-story log cabin that stood on the Public Square
was used for that purpose, and George Blair received six dollars
LOCAL INSTITUTIONS 119
for hauling the records, benches, seats, and tables from the old
court house at Cahokia to the new location.
When this court house proved inadequate, civic-minded
George Blair donated 25 lots to the county, which were to be
sold and the money used to build a new court house. The con-
tract was giv^en to Etienne Pensoneau in the summer of 1814.
He was ordered to erect a two-story unpainted frame building
for the contract price of $1,525.00 which was only partly paid
while the county remained in debt for about $1,200.00 until
1818 when the Sheriff was ordered to pay the balance. The
building was occupied in 1817 and was considered quite large
and up-to-date for the times. It was located on the northwest
part of the Public Square and remained in use until 1833 when
the need for a larger court house again became evident.
St. Clair county's third court house, begun in 1829 for
$3,189,00 also fronted on the Public Square, standing just
west of the first one. Its proportions were larger then the other
two had been, for by this time the count)' had a population of
20,000. It was a brick building finished in 1831, but not
occupied until 1833.
Ample though it seemed at first, three decades later it too,
was too small, and ways and means were being discussed of
erecting another. The contract for the new building was let
on May 27, 1857, to a Mr. Holder. It was to be of brick and
stone construction two stories high, with a basement under the
entire building. At the time it was considered equal to any
in the state, outside of Chicago. With the coming of the Civil
War, the construction, which had already begun, was delayed,
but the building was finally completed in that year, at a war-
inflated cost of $115,000. It was considerd fire proof because of
the materials used in its construction. The roof was of copper
and iron, and the floors were slabs of cut stone imported from
In 1862 a contract of $4,384 was let for furnishing the
120 LOCAL INSTITUTIONS
interior. This is the St. Clair County Court House today, the
fourth one to be located in Belleville and the fifth in the
The first court house at Cahokia was razed and rebuilt for
the World's Fair in St. Louis in 1904. After being reconstructed,
it was once more torn down and rebuilt for the Chicago World's
Fair in 1934. Now it again graces its original site in Cahokia,
having been restored by the Illinois Department of Public
Works and Buildings, appearing as it did in 1793 when
Cahokia was one of the largest cities in the Northwest Territory.
It is being maintained by the state.
No county jail was provided for in the first court house.
Pioneers usually took the law into their own hands, believing
it unnecessary to trouble the courts with matters they felt
qualified to handle. Informal trials were held and punishment
at once inflicted. Many, when found guilty, were allowed the
privilege of leaving the country, thereby escaping a penalty
that might have been much more severe.
St. Clair County's first two jails were located at Cahokia.
The first was built as a part of the court house. The second
was built in 1812 at a cost of $200, and was an exceptional
building. Its dimensions were 14 by 18 feet. A two-story build-
ina with seven feet of space between the two floors, it was made
entirely of logs that were 12 inches in diameter, so as to make
the building proof against escape.
The construction of the third county jail, the first to be
built in Belleville, began in February, 1816. Its contractor was
Henry Sharp, and it was located on the northwest corner of
the Public Square. It, too, was a small log structure, and cost
$360. After four years it was replaced by a fourth county jail,
a brick building constructed by William Graves. It was located
in the center of Illinois street on the north edge of the Square,
where it remained until 1836, when it was abandoned for the
fifth jail, built in 1836 by David Snyder.
LOCAL INSTITUTIONS 121
It also was located on North Illinois street, adjoining the
comer lot now occupied by Feickert's Bakery. When finished,
it was regarded as one of the most modem jails of the time.
Actually, however, it was an excellent example of a dungeon,
for it had no ventilation, no windows, a few holes three or
four inches wide in the ceiling, and the air in it was hardly
fit for reptiles. In the winter it was damp and cold, and in the
summer unbearably hot. In 1840 the grand jury complained
about the filth and dirt in the cells and stated that in their
opinion it was nothing more than a dungeon that would en-
danger the prisoners' health, and a disgrace to the community.
The sixth county jail was erected in 1849 and located on the
southeast corner of East Washington and Jackson streets,
where the First Church of Christ Scientist now stands. It was
two stories high, surrounded by a high brick wall, and large
enough to accommodate twenty-four prisoners. It was the most
cosdy of all the jails that had been built up to that time, totalling
The seventh county jail, the fifth one to be built in Belleville,
was begun in 1885 and completed in April, 1886, at a total
cost of $33,753,00. Considered very modem for its time it
served as an example for many jails elsewhere. It was fitted
with what was then considered superb confining equipment,
and is still in use on West Washington street just west of the
County Court House on a site where Abraham Anderson once
brewed his famous lager and where he dug his gloomy caverns
in which it aged.
It wasn't until 1857 that Belleville's city government acquired
a home of its own. Prior to that time its meetings were held
wherever the city fathers designated a place. In 1855 though,
a definite date— the first Monday of each month— was set by
In the year 1857, a new engine house was built on the north
side of East A street about half way between North Illinois
122 LOCAL INSTITUTIONS
and High streets, and its second floor served as the meeting
place of the city council It was a substantial brick building
of which the city was very proud. A new fire bell was acquired
in 1859 and placed in the council room.
But it was not until 1869 that a city hall was erected. It was
built on the Market Square, adjoining the eastern end of the
Market House and standing approximately fift>' feet from North
High street. Its architectural lines followed those of the Greek
Revival period. It was a two-story brick building and in its
upper story it housed, not only the city offices, but the library
of the Belleville Saengerbund and Library Society as well.
The lower floor was used as an engine house. Here the city
officials met until April 19, 1873.
In 1872 the congregation of the Presbyterian Church, which
then was located on North Illinois street where the present
Bell Telephone company's building now stands, purchased a
lot on South High street for the purpose of erecting a new
church. Because of its proximity to the other city property, the
citv council deemed it wise to buy the old building when the
elders decided to sell it for $4,500. After renovation the first
floor was used as the meeting for the council and contained
the office of the citv clerk and the city marshal. Its basement
was used as the "calaboose" or jail. Fire bells were placed in
its turret, for in those days a fire alarm was always sounded by
the ringing of bells. High wooden steps that ascended from the
north and south, led up to the porch that extended across the
front of this building which remained the seat of city govern-
ment until the present City Hall was built in 1892.
On October 23, 1891, the city council ordered the purchase
of the property on the corner of Illinois and Washington streets
for the purpose of building a new and larger city hall. The
purchase price agreed upon was $4,500, but because of the
city's indebtedness construction was not started until March
LOCAL INSTITUTIONS 123
In that year the board of directors of the Belleville Public
Library submitted a proposal to the city council, together with
plans and specifications, for the approval of the erection of a
building which would be built in the library's name but
could be used for both library and city hall purposes. The
city agreed to this and at once appropriated $53,600 for the cost
of the building. The library was to occupy the second floor
and the city offices the lower. The Library remained here until
it moved into its present building in 1916. The city then took
over the entire building and the first meeting of the city
council was held in the old library quarters on August 7, 1917.
CHURCHES AND AFFILIATED SOCIETIES
A modem poet has said, "Show me the churches and the
cemeteries of a community and I will tell you the Godliness
and the spirituaHty of its people." Applying this to Belleville
with its many beautiful churches and well-kept cemeteries one
may rest assured that this quotation casts no reflections on the
religion and culture of Belleville citizens, who are proud of the
fact that about seventy per cent of its people are affiliated with
some church. We have long realized that mankind cannot pass
through lite without some philosophy and virtue obtained from
religion and its teachings. We would, perhaps, relapse into a
savage state were we not sustained by the law of "Love thy
neighbor as thyself.'"
In the early days of this community there were no churches.
Clergymen were very scarce and their visits were like those of
angels, few and far between. Yet our forefathers were a pious
lot, belonging to a God-fearing generation. They firmly believed
in a life after death and that they could some day ascend to
In building the early churches, women played a ver\' im-
portant part. In fact, many helped to lay their foundations not
in the sense of mixing the mortar and laying bricks, but through
124 LOCAL INSTITUTIONS
their untiring effort of giving suppers, bazaars, and food sales.
Some of these early places of worship stand today as mon-
uments to the Supreme Being. Their walls are of brick and
stone of another era, worn by age, yet mellowed by time to a
greater beauty. They are a monument to the spiritual lives that
dwell within, of the faith of God that lives in the hearts of
men that built these structures. Therein lies the greatest beauty
of all churches.
The oldest Protestant church in St. Clair county to have had
a continued existence is the Methodist Church at Shiloh. The
oldest Catholic church in Illinois is the one at Cahokia built
by Father F. Panet, S. J. in 1700. The oldest Catholic church
in Belleville was built on the present site of St. Peter's Cathedral
in 1843, with Father Kuenster as its first regular priest. Before
his coming here, missionaries from Cahokia visited the area
and offered the Holy Sacrifice of Mass in private homes which
stood in the present 300 block of South Illinois street.
Today there are approximately thirty churches in Belleville,
representing practically every denomination, each one having a
worthy history of its own, but space will permit only the name
and location of most of them. They are arranged according to
the date of their construction, and are as follows:
1831 First Baptist North Jackson and "B"
Rev. Russell T. Phillips
1832 Union Methodist 10 East Washington
Rev. Dr. W. L. Hanhaum
1839 First Presbyterian 225 South High
Rev. Dr. Frank Eversull
1839 St. Paul's Evangelical 2nd and West "B"
Rev. B. ]. Koehler
1842 St. Peter's Cathedral 3rd and Harrison
Rev. Msgr. Raymond L. Harhaugh
Rev. C. Thomas Spitz
Latter Day Saints
Rev. ]. Edward Nicholson, ]r
St. George's Episcopal
Rev. Percy Miller
Rev. F. A. Kaiser
Rev. Alfred F. Schroeder
Rev. Joseph Orlet
Rev. Dr. L. S. McKown
First Divine Scientist
Rev. Emma Stolherg
Signal Hill Lutheran
Rev. William A. Wenger
Signal Hill Methodist
Rev. H. C. Brown
Beth Israel Synagogue
"A" and Church
2020 West Main
105 East "D"
201 North Church
24 North 14th
1716 West Main
311 East Lincoln
8100 West Main
45 South 95th
227 North High
Rahhi Abraham Hartman
First Church of Christ Scientist 112 North Jackson
Rev. H. L. Starling
Blessed Sacrament 8505 West Main
Rev. Louis F. Ell
St. Henry's 5301 West Main
Rev. Edward Killian O.M.I.
St. Theresa 1100 Lebanon Ave.
Very Rev. Wm. Hoff
First Christian 30th and West Main
Rev. Dale Wilhoit
126 LOCAL INSTITUTIONS
1935 Trinity Evangelical 47 North Douglas
Rev. Theodore Rasche
1936 Full Gospel Tabernacle "B" and Church
Rev. T. M. Kimherlin
1942 Apostolic (Pentecostal) LaSalle and Sherman
Rev. Paul Froese
1942 Bethel Temple 805 Scheel
Rev. ]. O. Underwood
1950 Westview Baptist Church 24th and West Main
Rev. Eugene T. Pratt
1950 Latter Day Saints 611 East McClintock
Rev. Dudley Brown
Many church societies, most of these women's groups, exist
today to help the church financially. Some were organized when
the church was founded and are still functioning. Without
these organizations many churches could not exist.
One of the oldest of these organizations is the Altar Society
of St. Mary's Parish functioning under the name of the Senior
Ladies' Sodality. It originated in 1894, the year the church
was dedicated. Miss Mary Graul was its first prefect.
The Rosary Confraternity of St. Peter's Cathedral, for both
men and women members, was established in 1865 with
Theodore Sickman as its first president. In 1860 the St. Vincent
Orphan Society, and in 1870 the Young Ladies' Sodality were
The Ladies' Aid Society of St. Paul's Church was organized
more than 75 years ago, with Mrs. Fredericka Wehrle as its
first president. A complete record of the minutes of this society
is one of its proud possessions.
On October 20, 1871 the Ladies Aid Society of the Jackson
Street Methodist Church was organized by Mrs. Hienz, the
wife of the pastor at that time, who was also its first president.
The Women's Foreign Missionary Society of the First
LOCAL INSTITUTIONS 127
Methodist Church came into being in 1872 with Mrs. VViHing
as its first president.
The Lutheran Aid Society, with Mrs. Loos as the first pres-
ident, was estabhshed in 1876.
The Ladies' Aid Society of Christ Church, the oldest women's
organization of that congregation, was organized in 1893 with
Mrs. Phillip Schmitt as president.
The oldest society in the First Baptist Church is the Halcyon
Club whose first members met in 1896 at the home of Mrs.
M. W. Weir, with Miss Sophie Weir as its first president.
The Art Needle Work Society is the oldest women's organiza-
tion in St. George's Episcopal Church. It was established in
1896 with Mrs. Amelia Reineke as its first president.
ST. PETERS CATHEDRAL, 1837-1944
When, in 1814, the county seat was transferred from
Cahokia to Belleville, a number of Catholics also moved here.
Among these early settlers were the Pensoneau, Munie, Joffray,
Mersinger, Adam, Fegan, Boul, Germain, Rabo, Stauder,
Priegler, Karlskind, Pfeiffer, Perrin, Lutz, and Fournie families.
The nearest church then was at Cahokia, and these early
people attended services there until visiting priests held Mass
in their homes.
The first written record of Mass being celebrated in Belleville
was entered on the Cahokia records December 8 and 9, 1836,
by Father Louisel, who stated that he said Mass at the home
of Mr. Chandler, and that fifteen or twenty persons attended
each day. In 1837, John O'Brien donated land on which to
build a church. Reverend Charles Meyer, stationed at Prairie
Du Long from 1838 to 1843, visited Belleville every two months
and said Mass at first in the old court house and later in the
home of the Huber familv. In 1842 arrived the first resident
pastor named Reverend Joseph Kuenster, and soon a two-acre
tract was bought from Mr. Joseph Meyer for his church. The
128 LOCAL INSTITUTIONS
cornerstone was laid by the Rt. Rev. Bishop Peter R. Kenrick
of St. Louis, in 1843. The first church was sixty by forty feet,
but because of a shortage of finances, progress was slow.
The next pastor was Reverend C. H. Osdangenberg, and
by this time his parish consisted of 130 families whose nation-
ality backgrounds were German, French, Irish, and Bohemian.
The first church, completed and dedicated by Bishop William
Quarter of Chicago in May, 1847, was used until 1863 when
it was replaced by another. The cornerstone of the second
church was laid by Bishop H. D. Juncker of Alton. It was
completed in 1866 at a cost of $87,000 and dedicated on
November 6, 1866.
This church remained in use until January 4, 1912, when
at six o'clock in the evening a fire, due to defective wiring, or
some other cause, completely destroyed its interior and the
roof. So far as is known, Joseph B. Reis of South Illinois
street turned in the alarm to the Jackson Street fire department.
George Kohl, the ten-year old son of Emil J. Kohl, discovered
the blaze, which started underneath the roof. The boy notified
Mr. Reis, who immediately turned in the alarm. The next
morning the walls of the building and the spire were all that
remained. Thus, the second building, then known as St.
Peter's Cathedral, entailed a loss of perhaps $100,000.
Labor, worry, details of finance and supervision followed
the building of the third cathedral. The building committee
consisted of Messrs. H. G. Reis, J. J. Gundlach, George C.
Rebhan, Joseph B. Reis, Dominic Bauer, and Peter Fellner.
In October, 1913, the present cathedral was completed, the
largest, most massive, dignified, and beautiful church of the
The first great event celebrated in it was the consecration
of the Rt. Rev. Henry Althoff on February 24, 1914. In
preparation for the event, the interior of this towering Gothic
structure was redecorated to make what today is believed to be
LOCAL INSTITUTIONS 129
one of the most beautiful buildings in the Middle West. In
that same year also occured the elevation of the pastor of the
Cathedral, the Rev. Joseph Mueller, to the rank of Domestic
Prelate, which honor gives him the title of the Right Reverend
Monsignor Joseph M. Mueller.
On January 7, 1887, the Diocese of Belleville was created
and the city was selected as the seat of a bishopric. On April
25, 1888, Bishop John Janssen was consecrated as the first
bishop of the diocese.
On September 23, 1934, the first native of Belleville to
receive the title of monsignor, the Very Rev. M. J. Gruenewald,
was invested wdth the title, together with the office of Papal
Chamberlin. The Most Rev. Henry Althoff presided at the
investiture. The investiture ceremonies for the Very Rev.
Msgr. John F. Fallon of Belleville took place at the same time
at Notre Dame Academy. He had been resident chaplain of
the academy but now became the first diocesan school super-
Celebrating the Golden Jubilee of the Diocese of Belleville,
which has been an Episcopal See for over fifty years, was of
interest to all Catholics of not only this district but of neighbor-
ing ones. This district extends as far south as Cairo and contains
approximately 70,000 Catholics. On the same day the Rev.
Henry Althoff, the Bishop of Belleville, was also honored, for
it was the Silver Jubilee of his consecration.
In that same year, 1939, its Centennial, St. Peter's Cathedral
was also consecrated to the service of God.
LEADING PROTESTANT CHURCHES
The Protestant churches too had early representation in the
community for as early as 1779 the Rev. J. W. Lee preached
the First Methodist sermon in the city, although it was not until
1832 that a Methodist church was built. It stood at the north-
east corner of West Washington and South Third streets.
130 LOCAL INSTITUTIONS
According to James Affleck, one of the earliest pioneers, its
bell was the first church bell to be rung in Belleville. The bell
was too heavy for the building, so it was suspended in a
walnut tree that stood on the premises. Among the early circuit
riders, for that is how the early pastors were known as they
travelled from church to church to conduct services, were John
Dew, Samuel Thompson, William L. Deneen, Joseph Edmon-
son, and John S. Barger.
The present Methodist Church, located on East Washington
street, was dedicated on December 23, 1849, by Rev. Went-
worth. Its cost was between seven and eight thousand dollars.
Rev. Rutledge was pastor at the time. The parsonage was built
in 1859. It was in that year also that a gas lighting system was
installed in the church. A new organ was installed in November
1873, and in November 1878 the Heinzelman Brothers donated
a 1500 pound bell for the new steeple. In 1937 Mrs. Florence
Rayhill, widow of Dr. Charles G. Rayhill, donated the present
organ in memory of her husband.
The First Baptist Church of Belleville was organized on
September 17, 1831. Its first meeting was held in the "Brick
Hall" that stood on the corner of South High and Lincoln
streets. In 1833 it held its services in the court house, but in
May, 1844, the congregation contracted for a church building
of its own. This they built on the present site of the Penny Store
at 213-215 East Main street. It was a brick building, thirty by
forty feet, and it was dedicated on September 20, 1845, the
dedication sermon being delivered by Elder James Lemen. Its
steeple was added in 1853 and it was then that the town clock
was placed therein.
The congregation used this building as a place of worship
until 1880, when they sold it to C. A. Monk, who used it as
farm implement store. The church services were then held
in the Rentchler Building, which stood where the Sears-
Roebuck store now stands.
LOCAL INSTITUTIONS 131
Meanwhile, the church purchased the corner of Jackson and
East B streets, the former site of the old Presbyterian Church.
Here the present church was erected at a cost of $12,000, and
was dedicated in June, 1883, by Rev. Kenrick.
In June, 1887, the old Presbyterian Church, which had been
built on that corner in 1839 by T, H. Kimber, and which was
later used as a residence for himself, was torn down to make
place for a parsonage, which cost $2,200. In 1906 a memorial
window, honoring the Rev. J. M. Peck, a former pastor, was
placed in the church. Until 1921, the church was known as
the Baptist Church of Belleville. It was then that its name
was changed to The First Baptist Church of Belleville.
In the early 1800's the only Presbyterian minister who visited
this city was the Rev. James Gallaher, who arrived at various
intervals. But in 1833 the first church was organized by the
Rev. J. F. Brooks, to be disbanded, however, in 1837. In 1839,
it was reorganized and it is from this beginning that the First
Presbyterian Church of today took root.
Its first building stood at the present site of the First Baptist
Church, and services were held there until 1844. In November
of that year the new church, located on North Illinois street
at the corner of East A street, was dedicated. Its basement was
used for school purposes, for in the early days schools were
conducted in some of the church buildings. In I860 the church
was damaged to the extent of $100 by fire, but it
continued to hold its services there until the present Presbyterian
Church was erected in 1873 at a cost of $20,000.
The cornerstone of this building was laid in July, 1874. The
copper box imbedded in it contained a Diamond copy of the
Old and New Testament, a shorter Catechism, a historical
sketch of the church, the sermon delivered at the time of its
removal from the old building, the list of church members,
a list of subscribers to the Memorial Fund, the names
of the Trustees, the New York Evangelist, which contained
132 LOCAL INSTITUTIONS
a sketch of the Presbyterian Church in Missouri, local news-
papers, specimens of coins and fractional currency of the United
States, the program of the cornerstone laying, with names of
participating ministers and a statement of Professor L. Swift
regarding the "Comet Now in the Heavens." Two years later,
in July 1876 the church was dedicated. Its pastor at the time
was the Rev. O. S. Thompson. Several years ago the entire
church was redecorated and is today one of the outstanding
churches in Belleville.
There are three Evangelical churches in Belleville, the St.
Paul's Evangelical, the Christ Church Evangelical, and the
Trinity Reformed Evangelical.
The former dates back to 1835, when Rev. J. Ries conducted
services in the Court House, although it wasn't until 1839 that
a constitution was drafted and a regular pastor, the Rev. William
Flickinger, was named. He was a graduate of the University
at Erlangen and received an annual salary of $150. The first
church stood on a litde hill where now the Franklin school
stands. That little church, which cost $413, was used as a place
of worship by both Protestants and Catholics, and also as a
school. Here also the Saengerbund had its meetings, and it
also housed their library. It served in that early day as a sort
of community house for the cultured Germans.
St. Paul's Church is sometimes spoken of as the first Pro-
testant church here. However, early records disprove this, show-
ing that there were other Protestant denominations in the field
at the same time, and even a litde earlier. It is, in all probability
the first Protestant church of German language in Southern
The original church dates to about 1850, although it
continued as a school for some years thereafter. Practically no
Evangelical services were held between 1857 and 1859. But
then the congregation was reorganized by a few faithful ones
who built the present church in 1861 at a cost of $4,721. The
LOCAL INSTITUTIONS 133
original church was sold for $200. In the years that followed
more church property has been acquired and many improve-
ments and additions have been made. An imposing $12,000
parsonage flanks the church on the east, while a spacious hall
is on the west. Its membership is constantly increasing, and
much of this is due to their popular pastor, the Rev. B. J.
Koehler, who has devoted himself unstintingly and tirelessly
in promoting the welfare of the church.
Christ Evangelical Church, located at the corner of West
A and North Fourteenth streets, was organized in 1893. Rev.
Louis Von Rague, its first pastor, charted the church through
its difficult first five years. During that period of time the
present church was constructed and its Sunday School organized.
The first services of the congregation were held on the second
floor of what is now Engine House No. 2. In the ensuing years
many improvements have been added to the church property,
making it one of the outstanding places in the West End. In
1913, a $10,000 church hall was erected, and in 1928 a modern
annex was added.
The Trinity Reformed Evangelical Church, an off-shoot of
St. Paul's was organized in the spring of 1934 as a Mission
Sunday School, but in the following January, it attained the
status of a church. Its first services were conducted in the
Community House at the northwest comer of South Charles
and East Washington streets. Rev. James V. Ingram was its
first pastor. In June, 1936, the congregation purchased the
Henry Ehret home at 47 North Douglas avenue, and this new-
ly renovated edifice was dedicated as a church on December 13,
1936, and its religious services have been held there and will
continue to be held there until the new church is completed.
It was on March 17, 1861, that Zion Lutheran Church was
organized by a group of thirty members, and its ser\dces were
held in a litde chapel on North Jackson street. In 1862 this
small group of Lutherans purchased the lot on which the present
134 LOCAL INSTITUTIONS
church stands, paying $500 for the same. Here, for $864, they
erected a small building, which served both as a church and
a school, for at that time, they had already secured a teacher
to undertake the education of their children. The new church
flourished and in 1867 a parsonage was erected next to the
The congregation soon outgrew the little church and in 1880
it erected the present church building. Its steeple was 128 feet
high and it contained two bells. A new organ was also installed
and the completed church came to $10,000. In 1887 the
adjoining lot and house east of the church was bought, and the
parsonage was moved to it. Some few years ago an attractive
new parsonage was erected back of the church and facing
North Church street, most of the labor in its construction being
donated by members. The Rev. Thomas Spitz is its present
St. George's Episcopal Church is the only Episcopal church
in the city. On Februar)' 5, 1880, fourteen Belleville men and
women met with the Rev. J. G. Wright of St. Louis to
consider the formation of a mission Episcopal church. At the
time of its establishment it was known as St. Luke's Mission.
Its first meetings were held in a building at North Jackson and
A streets. The cornerstone of the present church was laid in
the fall of 1882, and on February 21, 1884, the new church
was dedicated by the Rev. F. Seymore, Bishop of Springfield.
The church was designed by William Hume of New York and
was built by C. Daehnert. Its windows are of rolled cathedral
glass. Its first organ was a gift of St. Paul's Church in Spring-
field, Illinois, but in July, 1896, a new one was bought.
The church is located at the corner of North High and East
D streets. Adjoining it on the east stands the rectory, which was
built at a cost of $3,200 in 1902.
The German Methodist Church, now known as the Jackson
Street Methodist Episcopal church, was organized in 1848
LOCAL INSTITUTIONS 135
by the German Methodists in the community. In 1850 they
bought from the Enghsh Methodists the htde church at the
northeast corner of South Third and West Washington streets.
Here they met to worship until 1864 when they bought the
church and school property of the Rev. Homeier on South
Jackson street for $8,000. This little church had been built in
1858 as an Evangelical church under the Rev. Homeier. The
school building was torn down later to make room for the
parsonage. The steeple was added in 1865 and the next year
the church bell was bought. In 1911 the church was entirely
remodeled and furnished at a cost of $4,000. In 1950 it merged
with the First Methodist and is no longer used for services.
PAROCHIAL SCHOOLS 1848-1951
The history of the Catholic school system dates back to the
year 1848, when the Rev. Casper H. Ostlanbenberg, pastor of
the old St. Peter's Church now the Cathedral, established the
first Catholic school in the city, a grade school for both boys and
girls located on the corner of Third and Harrison streets,
which was then, as it is now, the site of the church grounds.
This first Catholic church was a frame building costing about
$300 and the school was held in the basement of the church
until the new school-house, adjacent to the church, was com-
pleted. Here it remained until 1863, when it was moved to
another location on Harrison street.
Other Catholic grade schools and the year in which they
were established are: St. Luke's, 1881; St. Mary's, 1894; St.
Henry's, 1925; Blessed Sacrament, 1926; St. Theresa's, 1926.
During the Civil War days the Immaculate Conception
Academy staffed by nuns was established for girls, and later
developed into the present Notre Dame Academy. The corner-
stone for this high school was laid on July 27, 1924, by the
Rt. Rev. H. Althoff, D. D., Bishop of Belleville, and the
completed building was dedicated on September 6, 1925. It
136 LOCAL INSTITUTIONS
was a four-year high school and boarding school for girls and
was in charge of the Sisters of Notre Dame.
The Rev. F. H. Budde, pastor of St. Peter's established a
school for boys, then known as St. Peter's Institute, which
eventually grew into the Cathedral High School of today. The
Brothers of Mary began teaching in it in 1905 and have
continued so to this day. This four-year high school with
an approximate enrollment of 200 boys, is recognized by
the Illinois state department, the University of Illinois, and the
North-Central Association. The faculty consists of four priests,
nine brothers, and one layman.
On August 6, 1926, the cornerstone of a $50,000 structure
for St. Henri's College was laid. It is a preparator)' school
for young men studying for the priesthood, but includes also
other studies in its curricula. On September 13, 1938, LeClerc,
a four years liberal arts college, was opened for the women.
The teachers in the institution were members of the Sisters of
Notre Dame and the Very Rev. Monsignor John J. Fallon was
the president of the institution. In 1949 it was discontinued
as a college and the building is used today by the students of
In 1861, the Zion Lutheran Church purchased a lot on the
comer of Church and A streets and erected a building to be
used for church and school purposes. The Rev. Mangelsdort
was the first pastor of the church and the first teacher of the
school. The present Lutheran school is at the Southwest corner
of Charles and Washington streets.
There are today nine Catholic and one Lutheran grade
schools which have a combined enrollment of approximately
fifteen hunderd students. The Catholic schools have continued
to grow and today include kindergarten, grade, and high schools.
Sixt\'-six sisters and nine brothers instruct the students attend-
ing these various schools today.
LOCAL INSTITUTIONS 137
PUBLIC SCHOOLS 1825-1951
The first public school in this community was one built at
Turkey Hill, but it was only a few years later that Belleville
could boast of the beginning of the fine educational system
which it has today. Its earliest schools had their beginnings in
the travelling schoolmaster, the private school, the subscription
school, the church school, and early school associations. Its
schools today with their modern buildings and highly trained
staffs of teachers have travelled a far way from the one-room
schools and poorly educated schoolmasters of the past.
Much of its present educational system is owed to the efforts
of two German intellectuals who were forced to flee from their
homeland after the unsuccessful revolution in 1833. The first
one of these was George Bunsen, who belonged to the liberal
class, left Germany and emigrated to America, leaving his
mark forever on the local culture.
He had always been interested in education, and when he
was a delegate to the State Constitutional Convention in 1847
he tried to establish a state normal school. His ideas, however,
were so far in advance of others that his plan was rejected.
Nevertheless due to his later efforts. Normal University, at
Normal, Illinois, was established.
While on his farm Mr. Bunsen taught his neighbors' children,
named Schott and Reuss, and in 1855 he taught his first
public school in Shiloh Valley. He didn't remain here very
long, for he soon became the country school commissioner,
today known as the county superintendent of schools, and moved
to Belleville in 1857.
Another of these German educators, Henry Raab, became
interested in education after George Bunsen persuaded him
to enter the teaching profession. In 1858 he became a teacher
in West Belleville, and later, the principal of the Washington
School. In 1873 he succeeded Bunsen as city superintendent
of schools, and in 1882 was elected state superintendent of
138 LOCAL INSTITUTIONS
schools. When his term expired in 1886, he returned to Belle-
ville and was appointed city superintendent. In 1890 he was
again elected state superintendent, but when this second term
expired, he returned to Belleville and retired from active teach-
ing. The high standard of Belleville's public school system today
owes much to the foundations laid by these two American
pioneers from Germany.
In those early days janitor service was almost unknown, for
most schools were serviced by the students, who usually made
the fire and did the necessary dusting.
A free school law was enacted in Illinois in 1825, but Belle-
ville did not organize a city school system until later when a
better one was enacted in 1855. It was not until April, 1856,
that free public schools were opened. In each ward, there was
a primary school for boys and girls, and one was also established
in West Belleville. Besides there were two grammar schools,
one for boys and one for girls. The boys were taught by Messrs.
Dennis and Fuller, each receiving a salary of $450. The girls'
department of the grammar school was under the tutorship of
Mrs. Charles Edwards and Miss Nancy Hough, the first having
an annual salary of $450, while the latter received $350 a year.
Summer vacations began July 25 and ended August 25. How-
ever, the school day was much shorter than it is now. The first
high school in St. Clair county was established in Belleville
In 1859 a hectic school election was held, with the people
having to decide two important questions at the polls. The first
of these was whether or not German should be compulsory,
and the other was to determine if the regular term should be
ten months. The candidates favoring both the German and the
long term of school, won the election.
The first official document regarding public schools dates
back to 1847, when three school directors were elected. By
1855 the town boasted eleven schoolrooms. However, one gets
LOCAL INSTITUTIONS 139
a fair idea of school conditions at that time, when the school
director's report showed that one teacher had one hundred and
tifty-six pupils, and that several of the teachers had no certifi-
cates, and that none of them kept records of any kind. In 1855
the total enrollment was 682, and of these 17 students came
from out of town. The teaching staff numbered fourteen.
In 1850 the Belleville Literary Society was organized. Its
object was, as stated in its by-laws, "... the promotion of
education, science, and literature, by procuring and furnishing
suitable buildings and grounds in the city of Belleville for the
use of schools established by the Belleville School Association,
and for scientific purposes in general." They issued thirty-seven
shares of stock at one hundred dollars per share to the following
members: Theodore Krafft, Henry Goedeking, Joseph Kircher,
Philip B. Fouke, Thomas James, D. M. Hopkins, Charles T.
Elles, Samuel B. Chandler, William C. Kinney, Edward Abend,
Nathaniel Niles, H. Schleth, William Lorey, T. Heberer,
John Scheel, Dr. H. D. Berchelmann, Taylor and Williams,
William H. Underwood, Charles Merck, Theodore Engelmann,
Peter Wilding, John Reynolds, Julius Raith, George T. Neu-
hoff, Jacob Knoebel, Conrad Borman, J. L. D. Morrison, Ed-
ward Tittmann, C. Tittmann, James Affleck, Mace and Heely,
Dr. E. Joerg, J. W. Pulliam, Russell Hinckley, Gustav Koerner,
and James Shields.
Henry Goedeking was its president, and Charles T. Elles,
its secretary-treasurer. One of the first things they did was
to buy the Odd Fellows hall (the present Lincoln Hotel build-
ing). Shortly thereafter they rented it to the Belleville School
Association for school purposes. However in 1863, wanting to
sell the building, they asked the school to vacate, which it
finally did in 1867. In February of 1868, Russell Hinckley, Sr.,
bought the building and converted it into a hotel known as the
Hinckley House. Mr. Hinckley paid $125 for each share of
140 LOCAL INSTITUTIONS
It was then that the School Association decided to erect its
own school building, but the project was voted down several
times, finally passing in 1865. Bonds in the amount of
$94,950, with interest at 10 per cent, were then sold. There-
upon the first Washington School was built in 1865 at a cost
of $40,910.20. The first Franklin School was completed next
in 1867 at a cost of $56,451.34.
West Belleville, although an independent community, never-
theless belonged to the local school district. When Theodore
Hilgard laid out that little village he donated Lot 469 to be
used for school purposes. Through public subscription, a small
school house — The Lincoln — was established, which in
1864 was leased for $1.00 for 99 years to School District 4,
later District 118. This transaction makes the Lincoln School
probably the oldest school house in the district. Shortly after the
erection of the Washington and the Franklin Schools an ad-
dition, costing $2,316.20 was added to the Lincoln School.
Prior to 1873, the administration of the schools was in the
hands of school directors. But in 1873 the first school board
was elected. Its members were William Maus, F. J. Staufenbiel,
Henry A. Kircher, George Harvey, Henry Brua, and Theodore
A liberalizing influence entered the Illinois school system in
1870 when the new state constitution eliminated the word
"white" from the school laws, thus assuring Negro children the
same education as others.
German influence has contributed much in directing edu-
cation in the public schools. The kindergarten is definitely a
German contribution, and Belleville was one of the first cities
in the United States to establish such a system for children
of pre-school age.
Earliest mention of kindergartens in the community seems
to have been in 1849-1850, when W. Frank and J. Fraus
each attempted to conduct one. However, no word of their
LOCAL INSTITUTIONS 141
success or failure seem to have been recorded. Mr. Fraus
married a Miss Marie Boelte, who had a reputation of being
a pioneer in the kindergarten development.
The first permanent kindergarten to be established here was
a private one. It was in 1874 that the Kindergarten Association
was organized with a membership of one hundred fifty local
ladies. Mrs. Gustav Koerner was its president; Mrs. William
H. Snyder, its vice-president; Mrs. Henry Raab, secretary; and
Miss Josephine Bissel, treasurer. The organization issued seventy
shares of stock at thirty dollars per share. In April 1875 it was
housed in its new $5,000 building. At that time there were
201 children enrolled and three teachers employed. The average
cost per pupil was approximately $20 per annum. This con-
tinued until 1892, when the organization sold its building to
the Philharmonic Society.
Again in 1907 another kindergarten association was formed
and classes were held in the city council's chamber. It was
maintained by the Kindergarten Association until 1915 when it
definitely became a part of the regular school system.
The educators of the city, in 1876, pondered over the
problem of whether or not to open the public schools for the
teaching of an evening course in shorthand, in those days
referred to as phonography. About 100 people had applied for
admission to such classes. Consequently the question arose,
"Is this study of sufficient importance for the city to hire a
special teacher to impart this knowledge?" The question was
finally settled in the affirmative, and before long, students were
given instructions in phonography.
By 1880 the city educational system was comprised of four
schools: the Lincoln, which was remodeled in 1865 and is
now used as a storehouse; the Washington, erected in 1865;
the Franklin, constructed in 1867; and the Bunsen, built in
Belleville always enjoyed a reputation for cleanliness. This
142 LOCAL INSTITUTIONS
trait was also made very evident in a decision made by the Board
of Education in 1894, decreeing that the basements of two of
the schools should be fitted with bathtubs to be used by children
found by the truant officer, and others, to be in need of a bath.
The boys who needed a bath received their scrubbing under
the supervision of the school janitor, and the girls were super-
vised by the janitress. The bathtub has long since disappeared
from the grade school, and the shower has taken its place in
some of the later modern school buildings.
Since 1917 a school nurse has been employed and paid a
regular salary. Some of her duties are as follows: (1) inspect
all pupils in September for symptoms of communicable diseases;
(2) visit each school once a week; (3) give each student a sight
test; (4) examine teeth and throat; (5) keep a record of each
student; (6) make home visits to secure correction of remedial
defects; and (7) assist in school dental clinics. The nurse at
present is Mrs. Dorothy Nehrkorn.
Of all the people who have been on the school board, John
Weber served the longest. He was first elected in 1876 and
served continuosly until 1904, a period of 28 years. The man
who served longest as a president of the board is Henry C. G.
Schrader, who was elected in 1931 and retired in 1941, establish-
ing a record of ten years.
During the entire 104 years (1847-1951) of Belleville's public
school system, only three women served as members of the school
board. iMiss Johanna Lorey, a retired teacher, served for a period
of two years, 1922 to 1924, and Mrs. Bessie Steingoetter was
a member from 1923 to 1937, a period of fourteen years, and
Miss Ruth Sterling will have served seven years when her
present term expires in 1951.
Excluding the Lincoln School, which today is used for storage
purposes, and the Central School, which was razed in 1941,
there are nine grade schools. These and the dates of their con-
struction are as follows: (1) Humboldt, 1882; (2) Douglas,
LOCAL INSTITUTIONS 143
1893; (3) Henry Raab, 1906; (4) Jefferson, 1912; (5) Dewey,
1928; (6) new Bunsen, 1929; (7) new Washington, 1930;
(8) new Franklin, 1930; (9) Union, 1939. All of these except
the Humbolt and Douglas, are modern and are sturdily cons-
tructed and well ventilated. The most modern of these is the
Union School, a strictly up-to-date and fireproof building that
replaced the old structure which was destroyed by a tornado on
March 15, 1938. All the school grounds are well graded and
The grade schools include the first six grades and the pre-
school kindergartens. The Junior High School, located at the
comer of East Lincoln and South Illinois streets, contains
grades seven and eight for the entire district.
In all there are 93 teachers and supervisors in the public
school system. Its buildings are valued at $2,280,187, while the
valuation of School District 118 is $77,500,000, and the tax
rate is 59 cents.
Work in the Junior High Shool is departmental and is under
the supervision of a competent staff of well-trained teachers.
Music and physical education are taught throughout the grades
and in Junior High School. In the latter, art, cooking, sewing,
and manual training are also taught.
The city superintendents who have served in the public
schools since the establishment of the public school system have
been George Bunsen, Henry Raab, H. K. Updike, J. K. Light,
George Busiek, Oscar Weber, Arthur Odenweller, W. A.
Hough, Harold V. Calhoun, L. W. Van Lanigham, and Ed-
ward L. Allen.
One of the outstanding events of the school year is the
School Picnic. It is the day when all work ceases and the entire
town observes the occasion. The main event of the picnic is,
of course, the school parade that precedes the picnic. Children
from all the schools assemble at each one to form the gaily-
colored procession that is interspersed with bands and drum
144 LOCAL INSTITUTIONS
corps. Throngs of spectators line the streets for blocks.
Some classes elected captains to strut along the side of the
children in the parade. They wore uniforms with epaulets, and
tin swords swung from their belts. There were May queens
and flower girls, and the singing of "America" was carefully
rehearsed for weeks. Arriving at the Fairgrounds the children
gathered around the grandstand where they sang "America" to
the accompaniment of the official band. There was no dispersing
until this was done.
The line of march in recent years has been East on Main
Street from the Public Square to Charles street, counter-march
to the Square, west on West Main, then north on Second
street to the Franklin School. Here the students are transported
on busses to Bellevue Park, the scene of the picnic.
From the minutes of the Board of Education it is evident
that the picnic was instituted at a early date, for records of the
May 1858 meeting show that June 18 was designated as the
first picnic day in which all the pupils of the public schools
participated. It was held in the Huff Garden in West Belleville,
and has been an annual event ever since. Committees are ap-
pointed to make necessary arrangements, which usually consist
of the selection of a site, selling of concessions, arrangements
for bands, selection of the line of march, and choosing the date.
The earlier school picnics were even more enthusiastically
celebrated than have been the later ones, for then, in the horse
and buggy days, there was less social competition and present-
day restrictions against the sale of beer at the picnic were not
There formerly was a bar at every school picnic, and a
popular place it was. It, of course, did not receive the unanimous
approval of the citizens and every year the Women's Christian
Temperance Union presented a petition to the school board
asking it to dispense with the sale of intoxicants at the picnic.
However, the opposition to the bar was of no avail until 1916
LOCAL INSTITUTIONS 145
when the board finally voted to ban the foamy brew.
Lunches properly labelled, were brought to the grounds free
of charge. Many mothers brought the family lunch in huge
baskets, usually covered with a large red and white checked
tablecloth. There was an ornate merry-go-round, sometimes
called the "Flying Dutchman," that went 'round and 'round to
the organ tune of " The Last Rose of Summer." In the afternoon
teachers would meet their classes at a pre-arranged spot and
games such as "Cat and Mouse," "Clap-in, Clap-out," etc. were
Until recently, the picnic was usually held on a Friday in
May. If it rained the picnic was postponed to the same day of
the following week. However, that has now been changed, and
a Wednesday in June is selected.
Such were the picnics of old. Those of today do not differ
so greatly from those of yesterday. The merry-go-round is still
with us, although its tune has changed. The children still march
as they did then, although not to the old Fairgrounds.
In pioneer days it was always hard to pass new educational
measures, since our forefathers, in their frugality, voted against
new tax levies. As a result of this, many private schools devel-
oped. It was not until the end of the Civil War that interest
in education received any attention from the public and this
period marks the beginning of local high schools. Before that
day, public education consisted only of the grade schools, but
in some of these a ninth grade was included, and from that grade
developed the high school as we know it now.
The high school in Belleville was created by a resolution
passed by the Board of Education on February 2, 1858. This
high school, such as it was, continued in existence until March
15, 1878, when the board passed another resolution abolishing
it because the public still believed that its benefits did not
justify its existence. Even though the high school was dis-
continued, many of the courses continued to be a part of the
146 LOCAL INSTITUTIONS
curriculum and in 1886 the eighth grade included such subjects
as geometry, German, physiology, algebra, physics, botany, and
In 1888 all the eighth grades, A and B section, were trans-
ferred to the new Central School that had just been completed.
Here Mr. Klein was the principal and Messrs. Brua, Updike,
and Dapprich were the teachers. In September, 1890, the high
school was formally opened, and in 1892 the University of
Illinois placed it on the accredited list. It was a three-year school,
but in 1908 became a full four-year high school.
It remained in this building and under the jurisdiction of
the Board of Education of District 118 until the year 1916.
On May 12, 1916, a plan for a new high school, to be
erected somewhere in St. Clair Township, was voted on at a
special election. By popular vote, the people decided to replace
the city high school with a township high school. The new
district included all of St. Clair Township, to which most of
Belleville belongs. As a result of this election the Township
High School Board of Education took over the city high school,
but classes continued to meet in the old building until the
completion of the new Township High School.
Three sites were offered as possible locations for the school
( 1 ) a plot of ground to the east of the city; (2) a plot in the sub-
urbs of Swansea; (3) a plot called Christy Place in the western
part of the city. It was put to a vote and the Christy tract was
chosen. It contained twenty-six acres lying between West Main
street on the north, the Illinois Central Railroad tracks on the
south, the Southern Railroad tracks on the west, and within one
hundred feet of South Twenty-third street on the east.
On May 16, 1916, the cornerstone for the main building of
the new school was formally laid with impressive ceremony.
The exercises opened with a prayer by Rev. Highfield and
were followed by a speech by Mr. George Niess. In the corner-
stone located at the northeast corner of the main building, was
LOCAL INSTITUTIONS 147
placed a copper box inside of which were placed copies of each
of the local newspapers, a histor)^ of the organization, a list of
the teachers of the school and the school officers, a dollar bill,
a half-dollar, a quarter, a dime, a nickel, a penny, and a message
for future generations written in pencil on three pages of fool-
The Main Building was built by Bauer Brothers and the
architects were Frank Riester and Otto W. Rubach. It was
modeled after the New Trier Township High School at Kenil-
worth, Illinois, and was completed on February 12, 1917. The
dedication ceremony of the completed building was held on
June 20 and 21, 1917.
It began on the evening of June 20, with a speech by State
Superintendent of Public Instruction, Francis G. Blair. On the
afternoon of June 21, a bronze tablet was presented by des-
cendants of four of Belleville's citizens who had been governors
of Illinois. The tablet was unveiled by Mrs. Mary Isabella
Wickenhauser, a great-granddaughter of Lieutenant Governor
William H. Kinney, and by Miss Sylvia Portuondo, a great-
granddaughter of Governor William Bissel. Present in the au-
dience at the unveiling were also Mrs. Gustavus A. Koerner,
a daughter-in-law of Lieutenant Governor Gustavus A. Koerner,
and a granddaughter of Lieutenant Governor Kinney; Mrs. B.
H. Ferguson, a granddaughter of Governor Ninian Edwards,
and Mrs. August Rombauer, a daughter of Lieutenant Governor
The members of the first Township High School Board of
Education were as follows: Louis E. Wangelin, president;
Rollin M. Hayes, secretary; and David O. Thomas, Andrew
Kissel, Charles Lenz, Fred F. Fleischbein, Julius Heinemann,
and C. Braunersreuther, board members.
The faculty at the Township High School in 1916 consisted
of fifteen teachers headed by H. G. Schmidt, principal, and
J. H. Yarbrough, assistant principal. Of the original teachers
148 LOCAL INSTITUTIONS
remaining today Orena Farmer, Pearl Johnson, F. J. Friedli,
and John Karch remain. The other teachers at that time were
EHzabeth Beyer, Ludwig Carl, M. G. Humphrey, Maude Kurre,
Lester Miner, Henry W. Brua, Estelle Thurston, Grace Bertram,
Cordelia Gummersheimer, Jennie Knowles, and Kurt Busiek.
In July 1945 Mr. Schmidt as principal was replaced by Dr.
Hal O. Hall, while Mr. Fritz Friedli became the assistant
The cafeteria was added in April, 1917, and was placed under
the supervision of Mrs. Kathr)'n Jones, who remained in charge
until July, 1949, when she resigned and was succeeded by
Miss Jewel Owens. It has a seating capacity of 230 students,
and approximately 1800 students and teachers are served there
dailv during the three lunch periods.
The next buildings added were the present girls gymnasium,
in 1919, and the auditorium in 1924. The enrollment increased
greatly so that classrooms also had to be added. In the south
end of the auditorium are eight rooms available for classes.
The north side contains an assembly room seating 1,200, where
all plays, some graduation exercises, concerts, and lyceums are
held. There the assembly is held for students, faculty, and
visitors. The programs are put on by the students unless a
lyceum program has been scheduled.
The present girls gymnasium was orginally built in 1919
for the boys, but was turned over to the girls when a larger
one was completed for the boys in 1937.
The present library building was added in 1936. It is used
today for both class and library work. There are ten classrooms
on the first floor. The second floor contains five rooms and the
study room, which has tables for 350 students and a library
of approximately 9,000 volumes and sixty periodicals.
The new boys gymnasium was completed in 1937 and is
considered one of the most modern and up-to-date buildings
of its kind in the state. It is 140 by 117 feet and has a seating
LOCAL INSTITUTIONS 149
capacity of 600 people in the permanent seats, 800 in the
bleachers, and 1,100 in the telescopic bleachers.
The latest addition to make the Belleville Township High
School a million dollar plant is its magnificient stadium located
in the rear of the cafeteria. Work was begun on this by the
Work Projects Administration (W.P.A.) in March, 1939 and
it was completed in April, 1940. It is today the finest stadium
in the Southwest Conference, and is one that many colleges
would be proud to own.
At the same time that the stadium was built the school also
modernized the track and tennis courts. The track is one of the
finest, containing a baseball diamond in the center, while the
tennis court is an all-weather one of the best contruction.
In September 1950, 1330 students enrolled in the local
public high school. In October 495 more enrolled for night
school, making a grand total of 1825 students enrolled that
year. The six massive brick buildings with the half dozen tennis
courts, track, and stadium are valued at over $1,729,700, while
that of the district is valued at $118,000,000.
The seventy-seven members of the faculty teach a total of
ninety-four different courses. The high school work is divided
into three main divisions: 1. college preparatory; 2. commercial;
and 3. industrial.
The average tax rate is forty-six cents, per $100.00 of assessed
valuation, while non-resident students each pay a sum of $290
The high school is approved by the North-Central Association,
Illinois University, and the State Department of Education. In
September, 1946 a two year junior college offering twenty-seven
different courses was added, making Belleville the first in
Southern Illinois to have such an institution.
The High School Board today consists of Dr. George E.
Meyer, president; Miss Ruth Fincke, secretary; and members,
Elmer Peters, Clarence A. Manring, Eugene G. Hepp, Ernst
150 LOCAL INSTITUTIONS
Stein, Herbert Kaufmann, and Russell Thome.
Belleville today has sixteen grade schools, the Junior High
School, three high schools and one junior college. Its education-
al facilities rank high and are the best in Southern Illinois. It
is a recognized fact that education is the first line of national
defense, and as such , it should be extended rather than curtailed.
Horace Mann once said, "A true patriot is known by the
interest he takes in the education of the young." Education of
youth must not be neglected, nor should it be permitted to
suffer any loss of educational opportunity, for our future position
in the world depends gready upon how well the boys and girls
are trained. Teachers, as a group, are contributing a noble
service to the country.
Although school days constitute only a short span of life,
they nevertheless present one with programs for life, making
it easier to choose the right career, and helping to better fulfill
By means of well organized instruction in schools, an op-
portunity is provided to study the principle of right and profit-
able living. Schools are maintained with this in view. They
strive to provide the individual with intelligence to prepare him
for better living, to make of him a more efficient worker, to
train for leadership, to encourage more intelligent voting, thus
making of him the best type of citizen.
Schools are not the only agencies for education, however,
for included in these are the church, the home, the library,
newspapers, magazines, lyceums, public forums, radio, television,
motion pictures, and playgrounds, all of which are educational
institutions. The power of the printed page cannot be measured,
although there is no doubt that much knowledge can be
acquired by contact and conversation with others who are
intelligent, either through association, experience or education.
The school group, though, is the largest medium of education.
It receives the child at the age of five. It keeps its doors open
LOCAL INSTITUTIONS 151
to mature adults. It helps to prepare the young people for their
responsibility as citizens, which is important because each
generation profits through the experience of those of the past.
The creed of the public school is as follows:
I am the guardian of the hopes of every generation, and I
am true to my trusts.
In me, all things are equal. In me are no distinctions among
those who come to me, except the paramount distinction be-
tween those who are proud to serve and those who seek only
to be served.
It is my duty not only to teach, but equally to learn; to keep
perpetually a light among my altars, kindling it forever afresh
from the inextinguishable flame that burns in every young
heart— the sacred fires of love of knowledge and love of
.country; for if I succeed, America succeeds. I am the true de-
mocracy. I am the American school.
THE PUBLIC LIBRARY 1836-1951
The oldest library in Illinois is the Belleville Public
Library. It has today (1951) functioned for 115 years, having
been organized in 1836.
In the period of rapid German immigration to the Middle
West in the early 1820's and 1830's, there came to this area
a group of outstanding persons. They were outstanding for their
scholarship, culture, and high ideals; all were graduates of
and professors at German universities. To them the political
oppression in the Germany of that day had become very
stiffling, and America with its opportunity for freee speech,
liberal thinking, and the utter absence of political oppression,
appealed to them.
Brilliant reports of the opportunities for scientific farming
in this fertile area had reached these men and this was the
incentive for them to try farming as a new means of livelihood.
152 LOCAL INSTITUTIONS
However, in translating themselves from German scholars into
American farmers, they held fast to their love of learning and
culture. They were known in the surrounding country as "Die
Lateiner" or "The Latin Farmers."
They met regularly, usually on Sunday afternoons, for dis-
cussion of political, social, and economic questions of the day.
It was at one of these meetings held on the farm of Dr.
Anton Schott, June 26, 1836, that the idea of a circulating
library was conceived. Just at this time there was published a
twelve-volume work of "The Life of George Washington" by
Jared Sparks, which was expensive and almost prohibitive for
individual purchase. The burning desire to explore this work
was no doubt the seed which germinated in the mind of Dr.
At this time he read a paper setting forth the value of an
organization of this kind and also showed that each one of the
group could pool his own private collection of books into a
central collection for the common use of all. He found his
audience in a receptive mood and it was agreed to meet again
on July 17 of that year.
Fifteen men responded to this invitation and on that day the
organization was perfected. The constitution and by-laws were
adopted on August 14, and each member of this group of
sixteen men subscribed an initiatory fee of $3.00 in consum-
mation of the plan. Thus the "German Library Society of St.
Clair County" was established and has functioned continuously
ever since. George Bunsen was its first president; Theodore
Hilgard, its first treasurer; and Dr. Anton Schott was appointed
the first librarian with the library located in his farm home in
The following sixteen gentlemen were the charter members:
Edouard Hilgard, Fritz A. Wold, Fritz Hilgard, Sr., Theo.
Engelmann, Theodore Hilgard, Jr., Julius Scheve, Gustav
Koerner, Dr. Anton Schott, Herman Wolf, George Bunsen,
LOCAL INSTITUTIONS 153
Wilhelm Decker, Joseph Ledergerber, Dr. Adolph Reuss, Otto
Hilgard, Dr. Adolph Berchelmann, and J. C. Hildenbrandt.
After an existence of four weeks the collection numbered
93 volumes and at end of the first year it had grown to 346
volumes. The set of Jared Sparks' "Life of Washington" was
purchased and this work of twelve volumes is still on the
shelves of the Belleville Public Library. The members donated
generously the books from their own individual collections. It is
a fine index to the patriotism of these new Americans that a
life of George Washington should have become the nucleus of
a public library.
A glance at the financial condition in the first year of this
infant project is indeed interesting. In the first year twenty-four
members paid the initiatory fee of $3.00, making the total
income $72.00. The expenditures were $25.50, leaving a balance
of $46.50. The finances were closely guarded; the annual
budget, receipts, and expenditures were laid before the general
meetings and minutely scrutinized before being adopted. An-
other example of the foresight of these men was that in April,
1839, they began the creation of a sinking fund of 20 per cent
of all receipts toward the erection of a building.
On February 22, 1839, the library was incorporated by the
General Assembly of Illinois and the incorporation papers were
signed by Gov. Theo. Carlin. One of the striking paragraphs
of this charter was Section 4 which says, "Female members of
this society shall not be permitted to vote in elections, nor in
any other cases."
The hbrary remained in the home of Dr. Schott until March
13, 1853, when it was moved to Belleville. The collection by
this time had grown to 1906 volumes, and it was no longer
expedient for the members, many of whom lived in Belleville
to go a distance of several miles to Shiloh Valley for the ex-
change of books. A room was provided by the Belleville Literary
Society in what was the Odd Fellows' Hall, where the Lincoln
Hotel now stands. Later the Odd Fellows' Hall came to be used
154 LOCAL INSTITUTIONS
as a school building and the library was moved to a room over
the store of Goedeking and Kircher, where Mr. Joseph Kircher
acted as librarian without pay.
The library remained here until December 16, 1860, when
it was combined with the Belleville Saengerbund. The Saenger-
bund, as the name implies, was an organization for the study
of vocal culture, and it also had a collection of books. In order
to increase the usefulness of both book collections, it was
decided to combine them under the name of "Belleville Saenger-
bund and Librar)' Society." This consolidation took place in
1860 and a charter was obtained in 1861. Dr. Schott became
the first president of this new organization, with Bemhard
Wick, Fred Reiss, and Jacob Weingaertner as its board of
Mr. Gustav Kellermann was the new librarian, but was
succeeded in 1863 by Mr. HenTy Raab, who served until 1883.
His son, the late Dr. E. P. Raab, was the assistant librarian,
whose dutv it was to ser\^e the children at this time. Another
noteworthy feature of this period was that in 1873 a rule was
made which admitted "ladies to full membership." The library
functioned under this plan for 22 years; the Dook collection
made rapid increases and had by this time a collection of
In 1883 the Saengerbund, agreeing to dissolve, offered its
library to the citv of Belleville with the proviso that it must
remain forever a free public librar)' and that the city assume its
debt of $1,000. The city was favorably disposed to this and its
council passed an ordinance to that effect.
Two men ^vho were among the original founders of the
libran% lived to see it transferred to the city. They were Gustav
Koemer and Theo. J. Kraft. Mr. Koemer became the first
president of the board of trustees and remained so until his
death 1896. Mr. F. J. Staufenbiel was appointed librarian, and
the librar)' was opened free to the public on March 10, 1884
LOCAL INSTITUTIONS 155
on the second floor of the present Engine House on South
By 1872, the space here had become inadequate and the
library board petitioned the city council to permit it to erect a
building. This was granted under the able leadership of Mayor
Herman G. Weber. The present City Hall on South Illinois
street was built by the library board and opened on October
9, 1893, with the city offices on the first floor and the library
and reading room on the second. Here a steady advance was
made, new methods of administration were introduced, and
obsolete ones discarded. The noteworthy thing about this period
of the librar\''s history was the splendid cooperation begun with
the public schools.
On December 10, 1903, Mr. Staufenbiel passed away after
almost twenty years of devoted effort. He was succeeded as
librarian by A. M. Wolleson, during whose administration the
most important innovation was the opening of a separate child-
ren's room in 1906, with an attendant in charge. Childrens
rooms were just beginning to be established throughout the
country in the late 1890's.
In 1912 the library was again seized with growing pains. The
second floor of the City Hall was wholly inadequate. Mr. Curt
H. G. Heinfelden, himself the son of a former library trustee
and grandson of former Herman G. Weber, under whose
administration the City Hall was built, was now the president
of the library board. He had opened correspondence with the
Carnegie Corporation trying to interest it in donating a new
building to the city. He met with many disappointments, and
it seemed almost impossible for the city to comply with the
necessary requirements set up by the Corporation. However,
after many months of patient and persistent effort, Mr. Hein-
felden received an affirmative answer. This required, in sub-
stance, that if the city would provide a site for the library and
pledge itself to appropriate annually not less than the sum of
156 LOCAL INSTITUTIONS
$4,500.00 for its maintainance, the Corporation would grant
the city the sum of $45,000 for a new building.
This was agreed to by the city council, and an ordinance
was passed setting all future minimum annual appropriations
at $4,500. The preliminary work of planning the building
covered many months of work on the part of the library board.
The construction was begun on March 1, 1915; the comer-
stone was laid on March 22, 1915; and the building was com-
pleted and dedicated on January 20, 1916. In February 1919,
Mr. A. M. Wolleson resigned and Miss Bella Steuemagel was
appointed to succeed him as librarian.
The occuation of the new building in 1916 was no doubt
the most important milestone in the history of the library, and
since then it has enjoyed its greatest period of activity. Steady
and normal progress has been made; as soon as new innovations
in library service have developed they have been adopted. Every
effort has been made to keep in step with the time.
Among the more important innovations have been: entire
recataloguing the book collection, inaugurating a new registra-
tion and checkup system, moving the children's room to the
ground floor, opening a junior adult department, establishing
the West Side Branch Library, introducing classroom collections
in the schools, preparing a mounted picture collection, giving
free library service to the hospital, and segregating the books
on art and music in an art and music room.
That the library has been a good investment for the taxpayer
is due to a composite effort, not only of the persons directly
responsible for its administration, but also to the splendid
response of the community itself, with its spirit of appreciation
of what a power good books and library service can be in
In review of this period of a little more than a century, there
may be singled out three individuals whose vision and devotion
to the cause of library service in Belleville has been most
LOCAL INSTITUTIONS 157
praiseworthy. They were citizens who were wiUing to go the
second mile, citizens who actually demonstrated a tine concep-
tion of good citizenship. The first was that grand old man,
Dr. Anton Schott, without whose wisdom, initiative, and in-
telligent guidance this pioneer adventure would never have
been conceived. Gustav Koerner, who through all the years,
still remains perhaps our first citizen, and whose devotion of
sixty years made the library a thing very near to his heart, was
the second. The third was Curt Heinfelden, whose preseverance,
persistence, and determination secured a building which might
otherwise never have been achieved for many years.
ST. ELIZABETH'S HOSPITAL 1881
On November 3, 1875, three Franciscan Sisters from
Muenster, Germany, arrived in Belleville and began a provision-
al hospital. They occupied a small one-story, two-room brick
building on West Garfield street, between Richland (now
South Second) and Race (now South Third), on a plot of
ground in the rear of the present St. Peter's Cathedral. For
many years this hospital was also used for a base and as a home
for the sisters.
There was little room in this primitive building, but the
sisters made up for this in their zeal to alleviate the suffering
of the sick. These three nuns went out on duty calls in their
self-sacrificing way and with great devotion, to administer to
the best of their ability to the patients of all creeds, color,
nationality background, or station in life. Their services were
greatly appreciated and resulted eventually in the erection of
the nucleus of the present hospital a three-story brick building
on the very ground upon which the present modern hospital
has been built.
Prior to this time Belleville had no hospital except what was
then called the County Poor House for indigent persons. In
1880 a new building was constructed upon the hospital's present
158 LOCAL INSTITUTIONS
site on the land that had been donated for this purpose by
Mr. Huber. On May 22, 1881 the sisters moved into their
Shordy after the opening of the hospital it was decided that
it should be opened to patients of all creeds and all denomina-
tions, and that all reputable physicians having a state licence
should be allowed to attend patients there.
Although the hospital was a haven for the sick, the institution
was not patronized as it should have been. There was great
reluctance on the part of all patients to enter it, pardy because
the people did not yet realize the advantages of a hospital.
Patients were usually treated at home and nursed by one of
the family. Only the extremely desperate cases, which members
of the family could not handle, were sent to the hospital.
Naturally many deaths resulted and the general feeling was
wide-spread that entering the hospital was a last resort and was
equivalent to being carried out as a corpse.
In 1892 two wings were added. Another wing was added in
1903, and in 1918 the large west wing as constructed. The
maternity department was built in 1926 on the third floor of
the east end, and so constructed that it is entirely separated
from the rest of the hospital. In the same year a new $200,000
addition was made and all modem equipment was installed.
Those in charge of the hospital today are the Sisters of Saint
Francis, whose Mother House is in Springfield, Illinois. Dr.
August F. Bechtold performed the first operation in the new
operating room of St. Elizabeth's Hospital.
The new $150,000 four-story addition to St. Elizabeth's
Hospital was dedicated on July 29, 1928. The Rt. Rev. Bishop
Henry Althoff opened the dedication. Rev. Thomas Bowdem,
S.J., Dean of the School of Education of St. Louis University,
was the principal speaker, while Monsignor M. J. Gruenewald
acted as master of ceremonies.
The personnel now consists of 35 nuns, more than 50 nurses,
LOCAL INSTITUTIONS 159
and 30 general maids. In addition there are the laboratory
technicians, X-ray technicians, dieticians, orderlies, office girls,
general maids, maintainance men, cooks, laundry help, and
others. The first and second floors are for general medical and
surgical cases, and the third floor is for the maternity cases.
The hospital has four operating rooms, two for clean surgery,
one for puss cases, and one for special surgery.
The hospital, as it now stands, is a great credit to the work
of the Sisters of St. Francis and to the people of Belleville in
general— a dream that finally came true.
In 1933 the old Harrison Machine Shop was remodelled and
connected by a corridor with St. Elizabeth hospital and in 1934
part of it became the dormitory' of the hospital maids and the
rest is used as a garage. It will be torn down when the present
hospital is remodeled.
Industry and Labor
Early Industries 1814-1850
'elleville's ideal location in the heart of the great Middle
West makes a vast market area accessible to it. Fertile soil and
an abundance of raw materials have made this location desirable
as a residential district as well as an industrial one.
Of the early industries the mills were the most important
for they were real labor savers. Before their day people pounded
their corn for bread or grated it into a coarse meal
which our forefathers contended produced bread that tasted
just as good as if the flour had been made at the mill.
The first mill in this vicinity was built by Elijah Chapman
in 1810 and was located on the west bank of the Richland Creek,
north of Main street. It was both a water mill and a tread mill.
Actually it was this primitive contrivance that gave Belleville
its real start as a village. Its first power was a brace of oxen
walking on an endless journey on a tread mill. In the spring
and fall, when the stream was high, water power was used to
grind the corn into meal and the wheat into flour. It had been
erected on a most logical location, however, for all the mills,
distilleries, and soap factories, depending on water power, were
located on that creek.
Another mill was built in 1815 by Moses Quick just south
of the St. Clair County Fairgrounds. It was later sold to
INDUSTRY AND LABOR 161
Major Washington West, and remained in operation until it
was destroyed by high water.
In 1882, Edmund Wilkinson and John Ringgold built a large
ox mill on the site of the present R. A. Halbert residence on
South High street. This was sold to Jacob Whiteside, who later
sold it to Samuel Ogle. In 1826 it was bought by Thomas
Harrison and Son who soon thereafter used steam as the motive
power. This steam mill was the first of its kind in the state.
The Harrisons, possessing much business ability, made a
great success of the mill, which in turn proved to be a great
benefit to the entire community, besides providing its owners
with an immense fortune. In 1836 it was moved to the north
side of Richland Creek and West Main street. The mill burned
to the ground in 1884, the fire spreading so rapidly that nothing
was saved but a few barrels of wheat. That which had once
been the pride of the village, in a few moments was nothing
but a mass of ruins, entailing a loss of $80,000. The mill was
rebuilt, but during that time the hundred unemployed millers
created a serious relief problem for the community. In 1889
it was incorporated as the Harrison-Switzer Mills and in
1917 it became the J. F. Imbs Milling Company.
That old ox mill and its successors constituted the most im-
portant of the early Belleville industries. For more than 150
years it has been located at West Main street and Richland
Creek. While not all of the early mills were as famous as the
present Imbs Mill, all of them helped to make the city the focal
point of attraction to farmers for miles around.
Hinckley's Mill, located on the southeast comer of West
Lincoln and South First streets was built by Richard Rapier
in 1832, and disposed of by him in 1837. In 1847 Russell
Hinckley bought it and operated it continually thereafter until
The Crown Mill stood on the northeast comer of East Main
and Walnut streets, occupying the site of a former small steam
162 INDUSTRY AND LABOR
mill, which was operated by a Mr. Meister. One of the best
equipped in the state, it was owned by J. F. Imbs, Charles
N. Hahn, and Fred Engelke. In the early 1880's its capacity
was 600 barrels of flour per day, and at that time it employed
more than fifty men. This company was the first in Belleville
to take advantage of the telephone.
Another of the very early industries in our community was
the distiller)' built in 1880 by the owner of the leading hotel,
an ex-justice of the peace, and ex-jailer, named Tannehill. His
farm, mill, and distillery, were mere auxiliaries to his hotel,
in that they supplied most of the things it needed. His distillery,
one of the largest in Southern Illinois, helped to make his
hotel the general headquarters of an indiscriminate admixture
of judges, lawyers, jurors, witnesses, politicians, scalawags, and
others. Here the entire output of his distillery was consumed
and often on public occasions three or four barrels of whiskey
were emptied in a single day. It was generally used in its virgin
purity— made today and consumed tomorrow— by his wholesale
or retail thirstv customers. A few apples, roasted to a rich
brown, were put in to the barrel and these gave it a rich brown
color. Tannehill's distiller)' remained in operation until 1830,
when it burned to the ground.
Tannehill created a bit of a sensation when he undertook to
build a windmill for grinding the grain on his farm. He got
the mill to run, but was unable to control its speed for want
of a regulator, which he did not know how to build. For the
want of this, the entire mill proved a failure.
A storm caused the sails to revolve with such velocity that the
runner was thrown some seventy feet and became imbedded
in the soil. The momentum of the shaft threw it out of place
and it continued to run until it had destroyed all the machinery
in the mill. Thus came to an end the first wind-powered mill
in this vicinity. Tannehill then resolved to try water power
and was more successful with it.
INDUSTRY AND LABOR 163
Before 1828, the reaping hook and the sickle were the only
means of har\'esting wheat. It was then that the cradle came
into use. Until then, twenty acres of wheat was considered a
large crop for any farmer, for it would take one man twenty
days to cut, bind, and shock it, but with the cradle he could
do the work in half that time.
Threshing the wheat was still the same process it had been
in ancient days. The old flail was colorful but very difficult,
for it was little more than a stick, and with it the grain was
beaten from the stalks. The only improvement on this was
the threshing of grain by the trampling of oxen and horses.
The bundles were laid two deep on a circular floor enclosed
in a fence. The horses or oxen were then brought in and the
ringmaster would drive them round and round until the grain
was all threshed out. The straw was then pitched out and
the grain heaped in the center. Later came the horse power
thresher, which was nothing more than a cylinder built in a
strong frame into which the wheat was put. The rear of this
was open so that the men could rake out the straw from the
In the late nineteenth century the manufacture of cigars
was a leading industr>^ in Belleville. In 1884 the city boasted
of eighteen cigar shops in which 125 hands were employed.
Statistics showed that in 1883 some 2,770,505 cigars were
manufactured locally all of which found a ready market. Owners
of these shops were: John Ackermann, John Bux, Albert Bert-
schinger, August Fernau, Daniel Fischer, Charles Goelitz,
Martin Henkemeyer, the Kaemper brothers, Charles Knefel-
kamp, Henry Krisher, Jacob Magin, Henry Meyer, Henry
Nagel, Jacob Scheu, Jr., Henry Viehmann, Nic Wilhelm, John
Winkler, and H. R. Willman.
The first tobacco and cigar shop in the city was opened by
Aaron Zeiler in 1840 in the first block of West Main street.
He manufactured his own brand of cigars but also kept on hand
164 INDUSTRY AND LABOR
an assortment of Melle, Principe, Half-Spanish, and Regalia
"Segars," all of which were the leading brands of the day.
Later Martin Henkemeyer opened a cigar store one door
east of the Public Square on the north side of East Main
street. Here he manufactured his famous Henkemeyer cigar
which because of its fine quality, soon became known as a
very fine smoke. It is still being made by the Mohr brothers,
who have maintained its quality and reputation.
As the decade of the 1840's drew to a close, twelve different
industries had already located in Belleville. They were turning
out some of the finest furniture, best carriages, and strongest
wagons, all of which could be purchased at a low price.
The making of whiskey, too, flourished at that time, for a
rather extensive steam distillery was producing, on the average,
sixteen barrels of whiskey each day. Another one was nearing
completion, and it was estimated it would produce twenty
barrels a day. A brewery had been built and was supplying
the public with eleven different kinds of beer, from the famous
London stout down to mere colored water.
In the past as now, breweries played a conspicuous part in
Belleville's industrial history, and it was here that the first
brewer)' in Illinois was established, when Jacob Fleischbein
opened one in 1832. It was located on the south west corner of
the Square where the Highway building now stands.
In 1837 Abram Anderson established one where now the
jail is located on West Washington street. In the years that
followed others were opened, and by 1860 there were seven
in operation. Besides the aforementioned ones, excluding the
Fleischbein Brewery, which had ceased to exist, these were:
Simon Eimer's Washington Brewery (west side of South
Second street between Harrison and Lincoln streets); Fidel
Stoelzle's Brewery (northeast corner of West Main and North
Third streets); The Heberer Brothers' City Park Brewery
(northeast comer of North Second and West A streets); John
INDUSTRY AND LABOR 165
Klug's Illinois Brewery (southwest corner of North Second and
West A streets); Priester and Villinger's Southern Brewery
(in the fourth block on South Charles street); and Philip Neu
and Peter Gintz's Brewery (located in West Belleville). In
those days the government levied a tax of fifty dollars on all
first grade breweries and a twenty-five dollars tax on all second
grade ones. Besides this it collected a dollar for every barrel of
Of all of these breweries Simon Eimer's, established in
1846-47, was the largest. It occupied a half-block, and had
beer cellars two stories deep. Reputed to be the largest brew^ery
west of the Alleghany mountains, it's output w^as 8,000 barrels
per year, much of which was sold as far away as New Orleans.
Fidel Stoelzle started his brewery in 1851 as a maltster, but
in 1853 he added the necessary buildings and machinery and
began the manufacture of beer. His brewery occupied about
a half-block of ground, and the water for its use was pumped
by a twelve-horse power engine from a clear spring situated
about two blocks away. In the early 1880's its capacity was
about 15,000 barrels per annum.
What is now the Star Brewerey was organized by Messrs.
Neuhoff and Bressler. It was called the Nebraska Brewery, a
name given it by someone by reason of the firm's initials, N. B.
When Mr. Bressler sold his interest to a Mr. Loeser the firm
became knowm as Neuhoff and Loese. But Neuhoff soon retired,
and the next proprietors were Loeser and Fuchs. The latter
sold his interest to Hubert Hartmann, and after a time Loeser
passed away, and his interests were purchased by Bernhardt
Hartmann. The brewery was then known as the Hartmann
Brothers Brewery and continued as such until September 1882,
when Bernhardt bought out his brother's interest. Its symbol
was the star that was used on its bottles. Hence the brewery
became the Star Brewery and has remained such even until
166 INDUSTRY AND LABOR
Today's Western Brewery is the outgrowth of one organized
in 1851 by Philip Neu and Peter Gintz, who conducted the
business as partners until the death of the latter on August 1 1 ,
1873. The present brewery was organized when the interests
were taken over by John Kloess, William Brandenburger,
Valentine Steg, and Adam Gintz with a paid up capital stock
of $50,000 dollars. One by one these disposed of their stock
until February, 1881, Adam Gintz acquired it all, paying
$32,500 dollars for the same. Under him the brewery was gready
improved. He conducted it until August 1898, when he sold
the stock for $118,000 to a Chicago syndicate, which, in turn,
disposed of it in April, 1912, to Henry L. Griesedieck, who has
conducted the brewery ever since.
LATER INDUSTRIES, 1850
In 1850, as now, many "shoe string" starts were still possible
in business. Today's and yesterday's foundry heads were not
financiers, but nearly all of them were sand and clay shovelers
with enough initiative and ability, in a favorable economic era,
to rise to greater heights. Some of the early foundries were so
small that today they could be tucked away in a corner of one
of their present storage warehouses. Many of them did not
make stoves but various parts for farm implements. When the
demand for foundry work increased, such products as mining
machines, sinks, and safes were manufactured on a jobbing
Belleville's outstanding industry has undoubtly been the stove
and iron business. In it was invested an enormous capital and
then a year's production was gigantic. It brought more people
and more wealth to the Belleville community than any other
The first foundry to manufacture stoves was the old Pump
and Skein, built in 1873. By 1884 it had grown so large that
it was able to manufacture 20,000 gasoline stoves for a single
INDUSTRY AND LABOR 167
St. Louis firm. The first large and exclusive stove foundry was
the Belleville Stove and Range Company, which was organized
in 1885 and was an outgrowth of the Pump and Skein Com-
pany. By 1890 it was manufacturing some 27,500 stoves a year.
Other new foundries now began to spring up in various parts
of the city, and it was commonly belived there was a great
future in this industry. Prior to 1911 some fifty foundries had
begun here, but many of them either merged, sold out, or went
out of business. There were large jobbing foundries that made
many other kinds of stoves besides the cannonball type. Some
of the early foundries were: Rogers', 1878; Eagle, 1883; Baker's
Stove Works, 1882; Enterprise, 1896; St. Clair, 1890; Excelsior,
1891; Quality, 1903; Oakland, 1905; Orbon, 1902; Roesch,
1907; and Never Break, 1910. In addition to these there are
now the Empire, Harmony, Egyptian, Supreme, and Premier.
A t\'pical example of the way some of our foundries have
changed names, is that of the Richland Foundry, which was
organized in 1902. In 1910 it was known as the Never Break,
and today operates as the Karr Foundries.
Philip M. Gundlach has perhaps done more to lighten the
task of the tillers of the soil than any other man in this com-
munity. His grain drills, the most perfect on the market at the
time, were universally used.
Philip Gundlach was born in Germany on July 13, 1831,
and eleven years later, in 1842, his parents brought him to
the United States. The family landed in New York from where
they proceeded to Pittsburgh, remaining there for two months,
and then going to Cincinnati. Shordy thereafter on October 12,
1842, they arrived in St. Louis and from there moved to Belle-
ville. Here his father bought a farm near the present city hall
but later allowed the payments to lapse when he found a farm
much more to his liking one mile east of Belleville. Here he
made his permanent home.
His son, Philip, remained with his parents until he was
168 INDUSTRY AND LABOR
twenty-four years old. When he married he moved back to
Belleville, where he specialized in selling cider made from the
apples on his father's farm.
He was of a creative turn of mind, and in his earlier years
invented a binder and a thresher, which were manufactured
by Cox and Roberts, the forerunners of the Harrison Machine
Works. His research did not cease with the threshing machine,
for he next devoted his efforts to grain drills. He soon invented
one and in 1858 began the manufacture of them in a shop in
West Belleville. In 1863 he changed his location to Main and
First streets. During the Civil War, when the other firms were
being ruined, he continued to prosper, his grain drills contribu-
ting much towards the winning of the war.
By 1880 his business had increased to such an extent that
larger quarters were necessary, so he built a shop north of
town. His business continued to flourish, and with Mr. Severin
Poirot as his selling agent, his sales jumped from 250 machines
in 1875 to 1500 in 1877. Most of these machines were sold
in Kansas, which was then developing into the wheat center of
The Gundlach grain drill ranks with the threshing machine
and the McCormick Reaper as an important factor in the rapid
agriculural development of the Middle West. Here was a vast
area of rich agricultural lands, able to produce bountiful crops
if only they could be harvested. With too few farm hands to
do the work on the thousands and thousands of acres of rich
farm land, the cultivating of a farm by one man became a
problem. These three inventions were the answer and the old
fashioned methods of cultivation and harvesting were now dis-
In 1847 two strangers, the Messrs. Cox and Roberts, arrived
in Belleville, and renting a small frame building near the Harri-
son Mill, started the building of threshers. These machines
could thresh and clean 100 to 150 bushels of grain per day.
INDUSTRY AND LABOR 169
They continued in operation until 1855 when Frank Middle-
coff and Theophilus Harrison bought out the concern. In 1857
William C. Buchanan purchased an interest, and in 1860 he
and Harrison bought the entire interest and it then became
known as Harrison and Company. But in 1874, Hugh Harrison
and Cyrus Thompson joined the firm, and its name was changed
to the Harrison Machine Works under which name it was
incorporated in 1878 under the state laws.
The Harrison Machine Works was looked upon as the most
important manufacturing establishment, not only in Belleville,
but in Southern Illinois. The reputation of its threshers and
engines reached all over the country and even into Mexico.
It v.'as located on grounds now owned by St. Elizabeth's Hos-
pital just in the rear of that institution. The buildings and yard
room covered six acres and in the 80's it employed an average
of 200 men. Its capacity of production at the time amounted
to six engines and eighteen threshers per week. Although it is
still in existence at 1510 East Main street, it is, however, but
a small replica of its former self.
There was a time in the past when clothing was spun by
women in the American home. There was a later time when
clothing was spun in large quantities in woolen factories. Such
a one was built by Louis Krimmel in 1848 on the banks of the
Richland Creek. Farmers brought their year's crop of wool to
the mill where it was carded, spun into yarn, and woven
into cloth. Sheep then brought good prices to the farmer. Mr.
Krimmel lost his life while trying to cross the swollen Richland
Creek on horse back, but his factory continued in operation for
some years after his death, and continued to prosper because a
frontiersman, Jasper Scott, operated a carding machine here,
which helped prepare the wool for the factory.
In 1885 Geiss and Brosius started to manufacture cider mills
and double movement grain drills. They sold out to Esler and
Ropiquet, who in 1875 organized the Esler and Roupiquet
170 INDUSTRY AND LABOR
Manufacturing Company, making grain drills, hay racks, cider
and wine mills, presses, and circular wood saws. The factory
was located at Main street and Mascoutah avenue.
In 1886 Brosius, Geiss, and Company established the first
oil mill that ever existed in Belleville. Its products consisted of
castor, linseed, hickory nut, and pecan oils. This was the only
place in the United States where pecan oil was manufactured
at that time, and it was considered among the finest oils for
table use, being considered much superior to olive oil.
Prior to 1882, electricity was used only for street lighting,
but that year the Romeiser store installed it for lighting purposes,
being the first establishment in Belleville to do so. Power for
the same was obtained from the Electric Light and Steam Supply
Company, which represented an investment of $50,000 in
capital stock. Thomas Knobeloch was its president and H.
Burchardt its secretary and treasurer. Its office was located at
the corner of Mascoutah and East Main streets; its boiler house
and electric light machines were located in a large brick build-
ing which was situated near the palatial residence of Jacob
Brosius, later for many years the home of the widow of the late
Judge Frank Perrin, and now owned by the Knight of Colum-
The steam generated by the plant, which was organized in
1879, was used primarily for running the machinery of the
Brosius Coal Mine, which adjoined the works, and for the
engine of the Brosius, Geiss, Oil Works. In addition, it supplied
heat to a few customers in the vicinity. It proved such a success
that during the season of 1880-1881, there were about fifty
customers being supplied with heat. About 15,000 feet of pipe
were used in its distribution, these being laid in insulated boxes
so as to prevent any possibility of freezing even in the severest
Belleville was the first city in Illinois to introduce this ar-
rangement of centralized heating, and many churches, halls,
INDUSTRY AND LABOR 171
and residences were heated with it. Because of its cheap manu-
facture, for its coal was obtained right at its door, and with
abundant supply of water from the Brosius Lake on the
premises, it seemed that a new era was dawning. However, with
the perfecting of furnaces for private use, and with unforeseen
difficulties presenting themselves, its usefulness passed after
a few years, and with it the Electric Light and Steam Supply
Back in the 1880's, Belleville began to experience its first
big industrial booms, for with the coming of the nail mills, many
new people came to town. They made good wages and spent
them, bringing prosperity to the community.
The Belleville Nail Company was located on a five-acre
tract in the southwestern part of the city, just across the
present Illinois Central Railroad tracks, then known as the Cairo
Short Line. It was often referred to as the Waugh Mills for its
officers were all members of the Waugh family. Col. James
Waugh was its president, W. W. Waugh, vice-president, R.
F. Waugh, treasurer, and J. C. Waugh, Jr., secretary. J. J.
Carey was superintendent of the plant. Its capital stock was
$100,000. In the manufacture of nails, about 52 tons of iron
were used daily, amounting to over 700 kegs per day. It gave
employment to some 360 men and boys, and its payroll totalled
$16,000 per month. Comfortable homes were erected in the
immediate vicinity by Col. Waugh, for employees, and they
were rented for a nominal sum. Prior to moving to Belleville
the company was known as the Bogy Nail Co. of St. Louis,
but when Col. Waugh had purchased it in 1869 he moved
The Western Nail Mills, with a paid up capital stock of
$50,000 was organized in March, 1882. Its erection was begun
on April 15 of that year, and the plant was in operation the
following September 4. It was equipped with 42 nail-making
machines, whose capacity was 2200 kegs per week. After a year's
172 INDUSTRY AND LABOR
operation, the entire plant was destroyed by fire. No time was
lost in its rebuilding, for on June 25, 1883, the new factory,
enlarged and with its capacity gready increased, was once more
in operation. W. H. Powell was its first president and manager,
Conrad Reinecke was vice-president and treasurer, H. L.
Powell, secretary, and E. B. Powell, superintendent. Its payroll
amounted to $20,000 per month. Nails ranging from eight
inch spikes to small three-quarter inch barrel nails were made.
It was located in the northeastern part of the city, and the
L. and N. Railroad ran along its warehouse, affording every
facility for loading and unloading.
A third, known as the Crescent Nail Mill, was estaUished
here by the Belleville Steel and Iron Nail Works in 1865 at
a cost of $60,000. It was located just outside the northern city
limits in Swansea. In 1896 it reverted to B. Hartmann, J. M.
Hay and Henry Reis, and in 1911 its name was changed to
The Hartmann, Hay, Reis Nail Mill. It remained in operation
until January, 1917, when it dissolved. Its spacious building
was used as a barracks in July, 1917, for 600 Scott Field
John A. Day established extensive brickyards on Freeburg
Avenue, adjoining Walnut Hill Cemetery. These were later
known as the Abend Brickyards and were among the largest
in the city.
Others who operated brickyards in Belleville in the past
were Gotdieb Zehnert, John Wittauer, Nic Holdener, Philip
A. Faulstich, and George Rodemeier.
In about 1880 Anthony Ittner found it necessary to find
a new location for his St. Louis Brickyard because of the
increased value of land and the encroachment of residential
areas. In casting about for a new site where raw material and
fuel were plentiful, he finally decided on one north of the
city just outside of its Hmits on the L. and N. Railroad. Here,
in 1899, he bought eighty acres of land and erected a modern
INDUSTRY AND LABOR 173
dry pressed brick plant capable of making fifty thousand bricks
The plant erected by Ittner was a model of nineteenth cen-
tury efficiency. In 1894 a second plant for the manufacturing
of common building brick was erected on the same property
and the last of his St Louis plant was abolished. Here the
supply of raw material, namely red brick clay, Illinois joint
clay, and shale clay was practically inexhaustible. Here he
produced fifteen million face and common bricks, and twenty
million hollow tile and hollow bricks per year.
In the operation of the plants 150 men were employed
throughout the year, and the pay roll average $75,000 annually.
Twenty thousand tons of coal were used yearly and twenty-five
hundred cars of bricks were shipped from Belleville every year.
This good business continued until the early part of the
twentieth century when improved machinery played such a part
that Ittner and his men could not longer compete, and today
the firm remains a fair memory' in the minds of the older
The Belleville Glass Company, established in 1882, was
bought by Adolphus Busch, president of the Anhueser-Busch
Company, in St. Louis, in 1886. He modernized the plant in
every respect, employed 258 men regularly, and by 1900 had
more than a $7,000 weekly pay roll and a plant output of more
than 200 gross glass botdes per day. They manufactured both
green and amber colored blass bottles for beer, mineral water,
soda water, wine, and bitters. It was the largest establishment of
its kind south of Springfield. In 1920 it was absorbed by the
Glass Trust of Newark, Ohio.
One of the oldest grain companies is that owned by the
Sehlingers, dealers in grain, hay, flour, and meal feed, with of-
fices and warehouses until recently at 616 East Grant street.
Its founder, Anton Sehlinger, was a man who possessed ini-
tiative, enthusiasm, and rare business ability. He was born in
174 INDUSTRY AND LABOR
Germany and in 1864 settled on a farm three miles east of
Belleville. In that year he helped to organize the Emerald Isle
Mill, in Mascoutah, and in 1880 he became half owner of it,
changing its name to Sehlinger and Schubkegel. Coming to
Belleville in 1890, he founded the Sehlinger Grain Company
which was discontinued in 1929. Today its successor the
Sehlinger Produce Company is operated by Albert Sehlinger.
The Richland Mill, established in 1896, one of Belleville's
outstanding business establishments, ranked very high in the
production of a high grade flour. It was located on North
Second street, and Joseph Dietz was its first president. In 1904,
it was bought by John and George Kloess. In 1913, five new
concrete elevators with a total capacity of 50,000 bushels of
wheat were added, to make possible the holding of the grain
when the price was low and selling it when high, thereby in-
creasing the company's profit.
The mill produced flour of both hard and soft wheat. The
latter was obtained from local farmers while the hard wheat
was shipped in from the Northwest. The last managers of the
mill were the two brothers, Arthur and Howard Kloess, who
ceased to operate it in 1940.
The Herzler and Henniger Machine Works, which was
organized in 1903, was inspired by a demand for mining
machinery in the local coal industry. Admirably located at
220 Centerville avenue and the Illinois Central Railroad, it
could easily ship its mining machinery, especially hoisting
machines, mine cars, screens and loading machinery.
Its welfare was definitely tied up with Southern Illinois coal,
and since the day for smokeless fuel has arrived, its boom
davs were definitely over. It, too, has passed on, having been
bought by the Gundlach Machine Works, who occupy the
INDUSTRY AND LABOR 175
Belleville is fortunate in being located near one of the most
important commercial centers of the great West, affording it
the advantages of accessible markets for the various products
of its farms, gardens, and factories.
With the establishment of factories, new life was installed
in the city, which stimulated earnings and promoted a rising
standard of living. Where industry flourishes there is no deca-
dence, no poverty, or spiritual death. Many cities, once thriving
communities, are now decaying because their industries have
moved out of the reach of its inhabitants.
The stor)' of brick making in Belleville, one of its oldest
industries, is a most fascinating one. Bricks were first made by
hand, then by horsepower, and still later by steam power.
Nearly all of the early homes were constructed of Belleville
made brick. Generally brick was in such demand for home
construction that by 1870 six brickyards were located here.
One of the oldest, and operating until recently, is the Kloess
Brick Company located at 200 North Twenty-first street, es-
tablished in 1865. At one time it produced three to four
million bricks a year.
Stoves came into use in Belleville in 1837, and soon the
demand for them far exceeded the supply. In time local men,
seeing a potential market, opened up small foundries for their
manufacture. The result was that this work soon dominated
Belleville's industrial life. At one time there were 19 foundries
located here with a capital investment of $2,545,000, and
employing 1,739 skilled workers with an annual income of
$1,496,330. Coal, gas, and electric ranges; oil and water heaters;
coal, gas, oil and electric furnaces were being manufactured
and being sent to the four corners of the world.
The Eagle Foundry, one of the largest and most influential,
contributed in no small measure to make Belleville an industrial
center. It is located at Fourteenth street and the Illinois Central
176 INDUSTRY AND LABOR
tracks, and is modem in equipment. Founded by G. D. Klemme
and William Schlott in 1883 it was moved to its present location
at Fourteenth street and the Illinois Central tracks in 1893.
The plant became famous for its "Star" cannon and "St. Louis"
box and "O.K." stoves. It was originally established to meet the
demand for stove casting, but in 1908 it added an assembly
plant, making possible the production of a complete stove. This
company uses coke from St. Louis; steel from Granite City,
Illinois, and Middletown, Ohio; and sand from Evansville,
The plant soon passed into complete control of Gotdieb
Klemme who, with his sons, continued to manage it. Maurice
G. Klemme became the vice-president and treasurer and has
proven to be a man of great business ability. Another son, Alvin
H., was made the secretary of the foundry, W. W. Klemme,
assistant secretary and treasurer, (while another son, Roland,
is today an outstanding brain surgeon and nerve specialist in
St. Louis.) In 1950 they sold out to an eastern concern.
The Belleville Stove Works and the Snyder-Baker Foundry
were organized in 1885, but the Belleville Stove Works had
been previously established as the Belleville Pump and Skein
Company. Most of the stove factories organized after 1885
were offshoots from the early foundries or from other factories
which produced iron products.
The Oakland Foundry was organized in 1896 by Henry
Ehret and was the outgrowth of the Standard Foundry, which
Ehret and William Althoff purchased in 1 890, when they con-
ducted a plant under the name af Ehret and Althoff until 1 892,
when Althoff disposed of his stock to Adam Ehret. The firm
then took the name of The Ehret Brothers. However, in 1894
it was incorporated under the name of the Enterprise Foundry.
Two years later the Ehrets organized the Oakland Foundry
which is now located on East "A" street at Florida Avenue.
The Oakland Foundry represents an investment of $440,000,
INDUSTRY AND LABOR 177
employs about 325 men and ships products to practically every
state in the union.
In May, 1930, the company suffered a $350,000 loss as a
result of a destructive fire. Invitations came in from many
cities asking the Ehrets to consider them as new sites, and many
offered free plants, free taxes, free power, and other facilities
over a period of from five to ten years. The Ehrets, however,
were so attached to their native city that they disregarded them
all and rebuilt in their home town.
The Excelsior Foundry was established in the southwestern
part of town in 1885 by Mr. E. P. Rogers and George B. M.
Rogers, and since 1893 has been located at 1200 East "B"
street. This plant has steadily increased its volume of business
and at present employs 91 men.
The Enterprise Foundry located on "B" street and the L. and
N. tracks was established in 1896 and it was one of the most
important concerns of the city.
The Orbon Stove Company, originally organized as a nail
mill in 1882, was reorganized in 1902 to manufacture stoves.
It employs 295 people and has an average weekly pay roll of
$7,000, and its president today is S. D. Vale. Since 1903 it
has been located on the L. and N. tracks and Sycamore streets.
The Premier Stove Company was organized by Mr. M. C.
Klemme and Arthur C. Krebs in 1912, and today is located at
100 South Sixteenth street.
The Karr Range Company, located at 300 South Seventh
street, was organized in 1916 to manufacture and assemble
stove castings, but today specializes only in assembling and
The Egyptian Foundry at Scheel and Hecker streets makes
castings but does no assembling. The Lincoln manufactured
and assembled stoves, but is now out of business. In 1920,
the Supreme began manufacturing on a small scale,
178 INDUSTRY AND LABOR
but has grown rapidly since then. The Original Enamel
Range Company is now a subsidiary plant of the Supreme
Foundry. Through coordination of the two factories a complete
stove is produced.
The Roesch Enameling and Manufacturing Co. was organized
in 1916, and was equipped in 1938 with modern automatic en-
ameling ovens, so that it is one of the best equipped enameling
plants in the city, after pioneering in the enameling process. All
of its enamel is produced by the company's exclusive formula
whose results have not yet been duplicated.
The Peerless Enamel Products Company was organized in
1938 to meet the increased demand for enameled ranges, and
does only enameling work.
The Imbs Milling Company, a combination of the early Harri-
son Mill, no longer mills for the local market nor does it buy
local wheat because the supply is too limited. Instead all of
its wheat is bought from the West and its flour is sold to large
chain stores. It employs about 70 men on three 8 hour shifts
daily. Its capacity is 2000 barrels a day, and its power is steam
generated by using local coal. The water is taken from two
wells, each 420 feet deep, safe for drinking purposes as well
as for boilers.
The Century Brass Works, Inc. had its beginning in our
city on July 12, 1917 and has always been located at 1100
North Illinois street. Its president today is R. S. Wangelin and
Frederick E. Lutz is its manager. Its products are sold through-
out the nation.
The Southern Boiler Works was organized in 1898 to build
smoke stacks and repair all types of boilers. Although small, it
renders a most valuable service.
After securing a patent for the manufacture of oil and gas-
burning metallurgical furnaces, Mr. Arthur Jones organized
and established a plant in 1917, known as the U. S. Smelting
Furnace Company. These furnaces are of a special metallurgical
INDUSTRY AND LABOR 179
construction for the purpose of smelting non-ferrous metals such
as brass, copper, and aluminum; and smelting and refining
The well-known contracting company known as Bauer Broth-
ers was organized by Dominic Bauer who was born in Germany
April 1, 1863. He arrived in Belleville in 1883 with only 75
cents in his pockets. His first job was loading coal at $1.50
for a ten hour day, and he had to walk five miles to and from
work. After working at this for six months, he secured em-
ployment as an apprentice carpenter for Val Reis and Sons
at $4.00 a week. In 1893, he established his own business with
Joseph Hilpert as partner. In 1903, Mr. Hilpert sold out to
Mr. Bauer's brother, Casper, and from then on the firm was
known as Bauer Brothers.
At first it built only homes but later entered the heavy
contruction field and to date have constructed buildings valued
at millions of dollars. Included in this are some of the largest
public and private buildings in this area such as: Pleasantview
Sanitorium, Scott Field hangar. County Highway Building,
Oakland Foundry, additions at the Griesedieck Western Brew-
ery, boys' gymnasium at Belleville Township High School,
Union School, Junior High School, Commercial Building, Elks
Home, addition to Court House, St. Peter's Cathedral, Belleville
Shoe Company, and International Shoe Company.
The Minor Construction Company was organized by Mr.
Joseph Minor, who was born here on July 1, 1879, attended the
parochial schools, and upon finishing his education became a
contractor. He worked at all the different phases of this trade,
thereby becoming an expert. He erected many homes and bus-
iness establishments in this city.
Hoeffken Brothers, the company that is engaged in general
road and bridge \^'ork and construction work, was organized
in 1892. Many of the finest modern highways in this vicinity
has been built by it.
180 INDUSTRY AND LABOR
Liese Lumber Company was organized by Mr. Julius Liese
in 1865. The main yard is today located at 317 East Main
street, while a large branch yard is maintained at Twenty-first
street and the Old St. Louis Road. It is managed today by
Oscar Lippert and his two sons, Howard and Floyd, and employs
Beer, wine, and whiskey have been used in this area since
an early day. In 1862 the vineyards in and around Belleville
totaled fifty acres or more and they produced a yield of 450
gallons of wine per acre.
The most commonly used drink of the early pioneer, besides
wines from wild grapes, was whiskey. In 1862, Belleville had
eight distilleries in operation at one time. The two largest of
these manufactured a brand of wiskey called "Chained Light-
ening." So potent was it, people contended, that it contained
64 fights to the barrel.
Two of the only four stencil machine factories in the world
are located in Belleville. The others are in St. Louis. The Ideal
Stencil Machine Company, perhaps the best equipped, receives
its castings from the Excelsior Foundry located in the same block.
Its annual production is about $150,000, and it employs 24
The Marsh Stencil Company, located at 707 East "B" street,
the last of the four to be organized, was established in 1920.
The volume of its business is about the same as that of the Ideal
The A. R. Stanley Nail Company, the first of its kind to
locate here was established in 1880. A continuation of the early
nail mill, it was located in the west end of the city on the
east bank of Richland Creek, and was powered by two large
steam engines. The mill used 35 tons of iron daily and
produced 600 kegs of nails. An artificial lake furnished the
water supply and local coal was used to generate the steam.
The present plant, located at 1200 East "B" street, and L. and
INDUSTRY AND LABOR 181
N. tracks, produces all types of nails, up to 8 penny, various
types of metal staples, and hoop fasteners for both wood and
paper containers. The capital invested is $50,000. It employs
three men and has a weekly payroll of about $200.00. Its
manager today is Margaret Stanley.
The Belleville Pattern and Match Plate Company, located
at 18 South Twelfth street, was organized in 1919 to supply
the many patterns needed for the manufacturing of castings
in the iron and steel factories in Belleville and nearby cities.
The Streck Brothers Packing Plant, located at 401 West
Washington street, was founded in 1915 by three brothers,
Clarence, Ernest, and Joseph with a capital of $300,000. At
first they rented a small building where they opened a meat
market which became so prosperous that in 1918 they opened
a second one, and in 1922 they bought a small plant in which
to do their own kiling. Their success inspired them to enter
the packing business.
Besides having a building for meat cutting, smoking, curing,
and cooling, and one for slaughtering purposes, they have a
second building for the manufacture of meat products, rendering
of lard, and an additional curing cellar. A garage, engine room,
office, and a new killing floor have been added. The plant
today is large, strictly sanitary, and has ideal working conditions
for its employees. In 1931 a rendering plant outside of the
cit}^ to manufacture by-products was erected. In 1934 the Strecks
sold their retail meat markets and are now engaged in the
packing business only.
The original Henkemeyer cigar factory was taken over by
Peter Mohr, who in 1902 moved his place of business to 24
Public Square. Mohr died in 1919 and his two sons, Robert
and Edward, carried on. In 1937 they moved the shop to 707
North Illinois street, and Ed Mohr became the sole owner.
Today the famous Mohr and Henkemeyer cigars are sold
In 1906 more cigars were manufactured here than in any
182 INDUSTRY AND LABOR
Other city in the Belleville-Cairo revenue district.
On April 20, 1900, the Belleville Shoe Factory was organized.
Its capital stock was $10,000, and the directors were W. L.
Desnoyers, Ed. H. Wangelin, George W. Detharding, H. J.
Fink, Adam Jung, I. H. Wangelin, and Phillip Knapp. On
October 21, 1904, it was incorporated by C. H. Leunig, Adolph
Knobeloch, and William Weidmann.
The Charles Meyer Pants Company was established in
1905 at South First and Harrison streets. The company now
employs 50 men and 280 women with an average weekly pay
roll of $12,000. The first building in its present plant was erect-
ed in 1923, and an addition was made in 1926 which doubled
its capacity. In 1935 another three story addition was built,
which pratically tripled the original capacity.
The Belleville Bill Posting Company, now the J. Knox
Montgomery Advertising company was founded in 1906, with
its headquarters at 3400 West Main street.
The G. S. Suppiger Canning Company, canning tomatoes
and other vegetable products, was established in 1927 and is
a branch of the Collinsville Tomato Canning Company. Nearby
farmers produce most of the vegetables for the factory, which,
during the rush season, employs about two hundred workers.
It was damaged by the tornado on March 15, 1938, but has
been rebuilt bigger and better than before. In 1950 it was
leased to Krey Packing Company, and all local tomatoes are
today canned in the Collinsville plant.
The oldest farm implement company here is the J. I. Case
Company, whose business is vitally important to the farmers of
this community. The Case Company, founded in 1842, first
built and sold threshers and later entered the farm tool field
in general. Its local representative is Hugh Edwards, who is
now located on the Old St. Louis road, after beginning his
business without any capital in 1937. Other similar retail es-
tablishments are the International Harvester Company, on Mas-
INDUSTRY AND LABOR 183
coutah avenue, managed by Mr. Ellar Daab; the John Deere
Company, called the Quality Farm Equipment Company,
located on East "A" street and managed by Melvin Timmer-
mann, Festus Becker, and Terrel Dungey; the Allis Chalmers
Company on North High street, managed by Mr. Arthur
Schmidt; and the Minneapolis-Moline Company on the Old
St. Louis Road and South Fifty-ninth street, represented by
A new dress plant was established locally through the efforts of
the Civic Investment Trust Association. It employs a minimum
of 150 and a maximum of 400 girls, with an estimated pay roll
of $300,000 a year. It is located in the plant of the old Belleville
Stove Works, which was remodeled by the Civic Investment
Trust Association. The managers are Ed. F. Keefer, Arnold
Salzenstein, S. S. Rosenberg, and A. L. Cohen.
The Belleville Casket Company was organized in September,
1919, by Dr. Edward R. Houston, James H. Land, and Leonard
Schmidt. In September, 1919, William J. Bien was added as
secretary, and since January, 1923, has been the president of
the company. Edgar G. Fritz is today the first vice-president;
Clem J. Hartmann, second vice-president; and Ruth A. Sterling,
is the secretary and general manager. The company today
employs a total of 42 workers, ranks among the 25 largest in
the United States, and sells its product throughout the Middle
West. It is capitalized at $25,000, represents an investment of
$250,000 and maintains a display room at 115 East "B" street
and another at 4219 Laclede avenue in St. Louis.
The Eddy Paper Corporation, a manufacturer of corrugated
and solid fibre shipping containers, is an Illinois corporation,
the successor of the Eddy Paper Company, a Michigan corpora-
tion, was incorporated in November, 1922. The officers of the
Illinois corporation are J. W. Kieckhefer, president; Anthony
Haines, vice-president; R. C. Meier, treasurer; and W. F.
184 INDUSTRY AND LABOR
The Michigan Corporation, its predecessor, was started in
1906. Henry Eddy of Kalamazoo and Three Rivers, Michigan,
was the founder.
In 1922 a re-organization w^as made, with the Illinois corpora-
tion acquiring the properties of the Eddy Paper Company of
Michigan, and in 1927 the Kieckhefer interests assumed mana-
gement of the company.
The Belleville plant, built in 1948, has an area of 90,000
square feet and is located at Otto and Sahlander streets. It has
a capacity of approximately 1400 tons per month, which means
that approximately 1400 tons of paper can be converted into
shipping containers in that time. Harvey E. Moore, is resident
manager; Robert E. Washburn, office manager; Dean H.
Jones, sales-service manager; and Hubert S. Munson, superin-
tendent. At the present time this plant employs seventy persons
in its factory and 15 in the office.
One of the largest manufacturers of monuments in this region
is the Tisch Monument Works, founded by Theodore Tisch
in 1877. Walter P. Tisch, Sr., his son, is the present manager,
while his son Waldo is associated with him. The business is
located at both Third and West A streets and 9041 West Main
The Adolph H. Honer Monument Works, located at 829
South Illinois street, is owned and operated by Mr. Honer,
who has been in this business practically all his life.
Belleville's products, both agricultural and industrial, find
a steady market in St. Louis. Commercial vegetable gardening
is practiced to a large extent and such produce as sweet corn,
horseradish, tomatoes, lettuce, potatoes, spinach, cabbage, aspar-
agus, watermelon, cantaloupes, and smaller fruits comprise the
principal garden products.
More wheat and potatoes are produced in St. Clair County
than in any other in Illinois. Crops grown and sold are wheat,
com, oats, alfalfa, red clover, sweet clover, Irish potatoes, and
sweet potatoes. Pork, beef, poultry, and dairy products also
INDUSTRY AND LABOR 185
are well represented.
One vegetable, the asparagus, has given Belleville nation-
wide fame. Conditions for growing a very fine variety of white
asparagus are most favorable here, and the demand for it
exceeds the supply. Belleville asparagus is featured on the menus
of leading hotels throughout the country. The Goetz farm on
the Freeburg road is especially famous for this product.
The financial status of a community is an index of its ability
to engage in industrial activity and a determination of its buying
power. Local industries are financed almost wholly by local
capital. Deposits in Belleville's four banks, which total more
than $10,000,000, reflect sound business practices and fair
wages. The resources of its six building and loan associations
total more than $4,000,000. Local capital invested in its indus-
tries represents some $6,000,000.
In 1940, there were 47 manufacturing establishemnts, the
leading one being the stove industries. The products of plants
are stoves, cigars, beer, caskets, millwork, containers, dyes,
machine work, stencil machines, shoes, flour, paints, boilers,
tacks, tools, canned goods, and artificial stone.
During the World War II boom our industries received
approximately $1,374,812 in defense work, exclusive of ad-
ditional Scott Field work which was estimated at $18,000,000.
A very active Chamber of Commerce is constantly interested
in promoting the welfare of the local industries. Its officers in
1951 were: Wesley Bloomer, president; Louis Saeger, first vice-
president; Al C. Schwesig, second vice-president; Wilfred Holle,
treasurer; Walter Wagner, executive vice-president; Lois Heu-
blein and Betty Kniepman, secretary and stenographers.
Belleville's Civic Investment Trust Association, with a capital
of $100,000 was formed to find jobs, to increase industrial
markets and retails sales, and to stabilize production, payrolls,
agricultural income, and real estate values.
Three railroads, the Illinois Central, the Louisville and Nash-
INDUSTRY AND LABOR
ville, and the Southern, serve the city, which had, until recently,
connections with the Alton and Southern, and the Belleville
and East St. Louis Electric Railway switch lines.
Belleville's trading area extends seven miles west, thirty miles
east, eight miles north, and forty miles south. The population
in this area is 75,000, of which 32,000 are within the city
limits. In its industries 2792 workers, who are strongly united
in the affiliated unions of the American Federation of Labor,
Today's major industries employing fifty men or more,
their dates of organization and present managers are as follows:
1837 J. F. Imbs Milling Co.
1851 Griesedieck-Western Brewery
1854 Star Peerless Brewery Co.
1878 Excelsior Foundry Co.
1883 Eagle Foundry Co.
1885 Harmony Foundry Co.
1890 Enterprise Foundry Co.
1898 International Shoe Co.
1902 Orbon Stove Co.
1904 Belleville Shoe Mfg. Co.
1905 Oakland Foundry Co.
1906 Meyer, Charles and Co.
1906 St. Clair Ice Co.
1910 Century Brass Works
1911 Ideal Stencil Machine Co.
1912 Premier Stove Co.
1916 Roesch Enamel Range Co.
1916 Karr Range Co.
1917 Streck Brothers
1918 Belleville Casket Co.
1920 Supreme Foundry Co.
1920 Marsh Stencil Machine Co.
1928 Peerless Enamel Products Co.
R. F. Imbs
Ed. D. Jones
A. C. Fischer
M. G. Klemme
J. J. Fox
I. J. Leopold
Clarence E. Rapp
O. W. Wegener
William J. Bien
Edw. P. Karr
R. G. Willman
INDUSTRY AND LABOR
1932 Empire Stove
1941 Princess Peggy, Inc., Items Div.
1949 Reynolds Spring Co.
1949 Eddy Paper Corp.
1950 Krey Packing Co.
J. Edw. Vinning
The smaller, but active ones, are as follows:
Acme Pattern Co.
A. H. Honer Monument Works
Beck Cigar and Tobacco Co.
Bauer Bros. Construction Co.
Belleville Awning Co.
Belleville Crate Co.
Belleville Sheet Metal Co.
Egyptian Foundry Co.
Excelsior Foundry Co.
Gundlach Machine Works
Harrison Machine Works
Joseph Magin Cigar Co.
Original Enamel Range Co.
Qualified Range Co.
Quality Plating Works
Southern Boiler Works
Stanley Nail Works
Specialty Tool Manufacturers
Swansea Stone Works
Tisch Monument Works
U. S. Smelting Furnace
829 South Illinois
123 North Illinois
200 North Jackson
820 West "A"
East Main and Florida
1200 East "B"
612 South Third
1127 East "B"
1500 East Main
221 East Main
C. A. Tickenor
1651 North Charles
215 West Adams
1200 East "B"
720 South Illinois
North Third and "A"
1200 West "A"
Karl Merck, Sr., was born in Germany, arrived in this
country in 1835 and opened his first bakery in that year in
T88 INDUSTRY AND LABOR
the 200 block of South lUinois street. A few years later he moved
to 24 West Main street, where the bakery is still located, and
where his son Charles later assumed control.
Feickert's Bakery is among the oldest in the city, having been
established in 1851 by Christian A. Feickert at its present
location. Feickert emigrated to America in 1836, coming directly
to Belleville from Prussia, where he was born in 1819. Before
starting the bakery he was employed as an engineer in the old
Hinckley mill. In 1882 he bought the old jail, which adjoined
his bakery property, from the city. After his death the business
was successfully conducted by his son, C. Arthur Feickert.
Today this modern and up-to-date bakery is owned and managed
by Carl Ruffing.
Albert Buechler, another native German, setded in Belleville
in 1858 where he was employed by Fred Rupp, then publisher
of the Belleviller Zeitung, a German newspaper. In 1872 he
secured employment with the Omaha, Nebraska, Herald, work-
ing later in leading printing houses in St. Louis. His second
son, Joseph N. Buechler, founded the printing company that
today bears his name, and has been active in this for 48 years.
In 1910 he purchased the property at 322 West Main street,
his present location, and today has one of the best equipped
offices in Southern Illinois.
The Record Printing and Advertising Company of today is
the continuation of a printing business established in 1847.
George Semmelroth, a native German, entered the partnership
in 1858, at which time a weekly German newspaper was pub-
hshed. At his death the Belleviller Post & Zeitung was pub-
lished by his sons, Herman and August. Later the business
was changed to a commercial printing and jobbing company,
and operated by Herman's sons, Arthur and Norman Semmel-
Before the advent of the automobile, the horse and mule
INDUSTRY AND LABOR 189
business, as well as carriage manufacturing, were among
the city's most flourishing enterprises. The Baer Brothers firm,
dealers in horses and mules, was established in 1866. It was
originally known as Loewenstein and Baer. In 1886 the Baers,
Aaron and Amson, bought Loewenstein's interest, and there-
after conducted the business as the Baer Brothers. David Baer,
son of Aaron, joined the firm in 1895, acquiring Amson's share
after the latter's death. Later Lee, son of Aaron, also became
associated with the business. Although they sell horses, their
speciality was mule selling, having at one time supplied most
of the coal mines with these. Their location was at 314 North
Wolfort and Company, located at 200 North High street,
are similar dealers. They were organized in 1869 under the
name of Meyer, Neuburger, and Wolfort. Later the first two
disposed of their interests to Leopold Wohlgemuth, and for
some years the business was conducted as Wolfort and Wohlge-
muth. In 1894, Philip Wolfort, one of the original founders
died, and his heirs, buying out Wohlgemuth, have conducted
the business ever since under its present name.
Outstanding in Belleville's industrial life in the earlier days
were its carriage factories, and the town boasted of several.
First of these to be established here was the Volney L. Williams
Carriage Works, which was established at the southeast corner
of West Main and Third streets in 1837. Later it was conducted
by his son Henry Williams, who moved it on East "A" street,
between High and Jackson streets, the site where the Wagner
Garage now stands.
The Heinzelman Brothers Carriage Works, founded in 1857
by John A. Heinzelman and Henry Timken (of roller bearing
fame), occupied the building now used by the Belleville
Casket Company at the intersection of North Jackson and East
"B" streets. In 1866 it was taken over by Heinzelman's sons,
John Jr., and William, who managed it until July, 1892, when
190 INDUSTRY AND LABOR
John's sons William, Reginald, and Fred took it over, and they
in turn operated it until 1917. During the St. Louis World's
Fair in 1904, they received eight awards for their exhibits.
Before the turn of the century, and for some years before,
at the corner of North Jackson and East "A" streets, stood the
Merker, Wirsing, and Hertel Carriage Works, organized in
1883 by William R. Merker, Adam Wirsing and Adolph Hertel.
Most of its production consisted of phaetons, surreys, park
wagons, carriages, and spring wagons, in fact everything made
in the line of horse-drawn vehicles.
In 1878 the Novelty Carriage Works was organized and
operated by Gustave Ludwig, Ludwig Beck, and Joseph Steg-
mayer. Their location was the original location of the Volney
Williams shop. Later it was conducted by Ludwig and Steg-
mayer, and finally only by Ludwig.
Until the day of the chain store, the William Eckhardt
Grocery was for many years the largest and most complete bus-
iness of its kind in this area. Its founder was a musician who
had started his career as a druggist. In 1867, he established the
grocery business that carried his name, at 104-108 West Main
street, where for many years after Mr. Eckhardt's death, it
was conducted by his sons Max and Erwin Eckhardt. Later it
was located at 124 West Main street. In 1945 he sold the
building to Howard Kloess who conducted the Vitality Feed
There are four first-class undertaking establishments in Belle-
ville today. They are as follows. Pete Gaerdner, located
at 250 Lebanon avenue; Renner, Geminn, at East
"B" and North Illinois streets; Gundlach and Company on
East "A" and North High streets; and the Bux Funeral Home
at 3500 West Main street.
The town's leading florists are Grossart Sons on East Main
street, estblished by Gustav Grossart and carried on by his sons,
Amo and Fred. The other is the Klamm Florist on Scheel
INDUSTRY AND LABOR 191
Street, founded and managed by Irvin Klamm today. Two others
are John Miller, 127 Mascoutah avenue, and Matt Schoenen-
berger Florist, managed at present by Irvin G. Krumrich, 811
West "E" street.
The Belleville Commercial College had been for many years
a household word, for most local businessmen have received
some of their education in this institution. Its founder was
Joseph Foeller who opened his first school on August 1, 1893,
at 18 East Main street above the old Savings Bank. Arthur J.
Foeller succeeded his father in 1914. In 1943, after his death,
his sister Adel Foeller continued the school until about 1945
when it closed its doors.
Among the leading bakeries are the Home Bakery, established
by John Wilbert in 1896, the Seifferth, Merck, Phil Stetzner's,
Schneider, and Feickert Bakery.
On June 18, 1900, the Kinloch Company began the installa-
tion of a telephone system and opened it to the public in
November of that year. The Bell Telephone of Missouri had
already been established here since 1882, when the city council
granted it the privilege to maintain and operate an exchange.
The Bell system has, since August 15, 1924, bought out the
Kinloch and has the entire field to itself. Service today is given
by the Southwestern Bell Telephone Company, a subsidiary
of the American Telephone and Telegraph. It operates both
local and long-distance switchboards, and, at the present time,
has about 14,500 telephones installed. Its growth has been
very rapid and its service excellent.
In June, 1895, the city of Belleville contracted with the
Bell Telephone Company for the installation of 21 telephones
which were placed in different city wards at a rental of $25
per year. In February, 1 896, the city council passed an ordinance
granting a franchise to W. J. Kurtz to construct and maintain
a private telephone system in Belleville. The rates were 25
cents per week for private or residential telephones and 50
192 INDUSTRY AND LABOR
cents per week for business houses. This ordinance provided
also for furnishing telephones to the city free of charge, for
the police and for fire alarms.
Mr. Frank Sadorf, founder of the Paris Cleaning Establish-
ment, first permanent establishment of its kind to have been es-
tablished here, was born in Austria on September 12, 1875, and
left that country to seek his fortune in the New World. He set-
ded first in St. Louis, working there for a former Austrian school-
mate named Lungstras, who owned the largest cleaning establish-
ment in that city. He remained with him for three years, and
in 1906, while visiting in Belleville, decided to establish a
business of his own. The first location was where the Cook
Paint Store now is, but in 1920 he bought the present location
at 309 East Main street. It continued to be managed and owned
by his two sons, Frank and Matthew, but in 1950 they sold
out to the Klyne brothers. The Paris Cleaner and Dyers is a
business that is fulfilling a vital need in the city.
The firm Julleis and Son Feed Mill, located at Centerville
and Eigth streets was established in 1905 by Herman Julleis
and his two sons, Herman and Joseph.
The St. Clair Ice Company, located at 721 West Main street,
just west of Richland Creek, was established in 1908, and be-
came incorporated in 1927. Water is taken from a well 462
feet deep and is blended with city water and aerated before
going into the plant for the manufacture of ice. It is under the
management of Karl Pflanz, and it operates continually, pro
ducing 50.8 tons of ice daily, all of which is consumed locally.
In 1939 a modern locker plant containing 1000 lockers was
Peter Fellner, late president of the Fellner-Ratheim Dry
Goods Store was bom in Germany, April 18, 1868. Leaving
there on February 28, 1893, he came to Belleville where he
found employment with Kanzler Brothers Grocery and Dry
Goods Store on North Illinois street. On October 15, 1898,
INDUSTRY AND LABOR 193
he accepted a position with the Horn and Rodenheiser Dry
Goods Company, which he and his partner, Paul Ratheim,
eventually bought out, forming the present dry goods firm.
He died in October 1941.
Prior to 1852, Belleville's banking history is vague, and little
of a definite nature has been recorded. But in that year Russel
Hinckley established his private banking institution, and until
its failure it was the leading bank in the community. It was
located on the present site of the First National Bank, occupying
a building erected in approximately 1839 for the Illinois State
Bank. This one-story building was razed in 1896 to make way
for the present bank structure.
Besides the Hinckley bank failure, Belleville's history records
three others. The Bank of Belleville, established in 1855 by
Bogy, Miltenburg, and Company, which was located in the old
Thomas House, failed in 1858. Although the loss was partially
attributed to the lessened value of bank bills, it was due
largely to fraud, and its president was indicted for swindle.
The People's Bank, organized in 1869 with quarters in the
old Belleville House, closed its doors on April 22, 1878, attri-
buting its failure largely to the failure of the Belleville Nail
More recently the Belleville Bank and Trust Company,
organized in 1903, an outstanding institution during its life
time, closed its doors on January 27, 1938, the misappropriation
of funds by its cashier showing a shortage of more than
The Belleville Savings Bank is today not only the oldest in
the city, but the third oldest in the state. It was organized on
February 20, 1859. Until 1869, it was known as the St. Clair
Savings and Insurance Company, but after discontinuing the
insurance business it adopted its present name. The original
bank was located in the Neuhoff Building, a few doors west of
the Public Square on the south side of West Main street. In
194 INDUSTRY AND LABOR
1865 it moved to East Main street, at first occupying the ad-
joining building west of its present location.
At the present Belleville has four banks, the First National,
the St. Clair National, the Belleville Savings and the Belleville
National. The combined capital and surplus is more than $1,-
427,500.00, and the total resources more than $15,000,000.
The First National Bank, established in 1874 and at present
the largest in the city, was the first to join the Federal Reserve
System in 1914 and establish the savings account feature.
On October 15, 1919, the St. Clair National Bank was opened
for business with a capital of $150,000.00 and a paid surplus
of $30,000.00. The officers at the time were William Reichert,
Frank Gundlach, and Arthur Eidman.
The Belleville National Bank was organized on March 28,
1928, with a capital stock of $100,000. Among those prominent
in its progress were John Wilbert, Carl Tritt, Joseph Minor,
Walter Freudenberg, A. T. Sprich, P. C. Otwell, F. A. Keiner,
L. R. McKinley, Harrison Schmisseur, Harvey Lippert, August
Eschman, Otto Neuhaus, E. C. Eidman, Richard Schramm,
Dr. S. W. McKelvey, Lee Grandcolas and William Schmisseur.
All these banks at the present time have first-class ratings, have
shown a steady growth, are conservative, and have given the
city splendid service.
The darkness ruled with very little opposition when night
fell in the young city. The unimproved streets were dark and
treacherous, especially on rainy, stormy nights. It was, therefore,
with much enthusiasm that the people welcomed the coming
of the gas lamp in 1856. Even though it cast a weak and flick-
ering hght, the three cast iron lamp posts erected in each of
the city blocks were a big improvement.
The illuminating agent used in these street lights was a coal
gas manufactured by the Belleville Gas and Coke Company plant
located on Richland Creek where today the electric distributing
INDUSTRY AND LABOR 195
Station stands. It was a local stock company capitalized at $75,-
000. This company laid over five miles of main pipe under the
streets and installed 152 street lamps. Other streets too were
illuminated, and in 1880 the gasoline light, a new type of illu-
mination was tried out on Church street. In 1882, the electric
light, the mar\'el of the age, was introduced in the city, which
was now so well lighted that a flock of geese migrating south,
flew over the city on the night of November 2, 1882, the first
night that the lights were on and became so blinded and
confused that they landed in the town. The night, heavy with
clouds and moisture, caused the lights to be reflected so as to
illuminate every nook and corner confusing the geese to whom
it must have seemed that there was one patch of daylight in
the darkened night.
Belleville is supplied with enough electric power today to
meet almost any demand. It is furnished by the Illinois Power
Company through its Cahokia plant in East St. Louis and
Venice, Illinois, and is transmitted by power lines carrying
Belleville had 36 wholesale establishments in 1939 that did
$3,358,000 worth of business that year. Its employees received
a total payroll of $176,000.
Perhaps the largest sales at that time in any one line of
business were those in petroleum products, which totaled $1,-
085,000 and had a pay roll of $53,000 for 29 employees.
In 1850 the following number of businesses, industries, and
professions were located in Belleville: 6 hotels, 12 dry good
stores, 23 groceries, 4 drug stores, 8 doctors, 3 saddle shops,
12 boot and shoe makers, 8 cabinet makers, 9 wagon makers,
3 chair makers, 10 copper shops, 17 carpenter shops, 11 black-
smiths, 4 bakers, 1 iron stove, 1 pill factory, 4 plasterers, 4
painters, 4 tinners, 7 schools, 9 tailors, 12 lawyers, 2 barber
shops, 1 plow maker, 3 soap factories, 6 butchers, 1 carding
mill, 2 silver smiths, 2 flour mills, 3 breweries, 1 threshing
INDUSTRY AND LABOR
machine factory, 2 tanning yards, and 1 woolen factory.
By 1939 there were 5 beer, wine, and liquor firms that had
a yearly sale of $610,000. There were three general line gro-
ceries whose sales totaled $536,000 yearly. Six building and
loan associations, namely, the Belleville Security, Citizens, First
Mutual, Greater Belleville, Home, and West Side, whose
total resources amount to $3,198,526, do business in Belleville.
The following business establishments reflect the growth of
our city today.
A and L Woodcraft Shop
Belleville Botding Co.
Belleville St. Louis Coach Co
Berger, Ben Contractor
Biebel Roofing Co.
Bien and Peter
Blust, Fred Co.
Bonnelle, Tony Co.
Brutto, Syl, Coal Hauling
Building Products Corp.
Coca Cola Bottling Co.
Culligan Soft Water Service
Daesch, E. A.
Dahm Plumbing and Heating
Dr. Pepper Bottling Co.
East St. Louis and Interurban Water Co.
Ebel, Irvin O, Plumbing and Heating Co
Evans Tree Service
Flach, Paul E. Contractor
Frick, L. C. Service Co.
720 West Adams
209 North Illinois
300 West Monroe
503 West Main
123 South 16th
6400 West Main
36 Orchard Drive
Forty-sixth and Belt
South Twentieth and L C. RR
111 West "A"
11th and West "C"
1901 West Main
100 North Illinois
501 South Second
101 North Illinois
6520 West Main
303 West Main
INDUSTRY AND LABOR
Fruth Motor Truck Service
Geissler Roofing Co., Inc.
General Welding Supply
Gooding Truck Service
Gundlach, P. M. Sons
Hessler, F. J. and Son
Hoeffken Brothers Supply and
Holland Furnace Co.
Home-Brite Lumber Co.
Hy^rade Foundry Co.
Illinois Power Co.
Kehrer Bros. Excavating Co.
Keil Tin Shop
Kettler Tool and Die Shop
Kloess Brick Co.
Kloess Contracting Co.
Liese Lumber Co.
Lippert, Harvey and Son
M. and S. Transfer Co.
Mager, Wib L. Supply Co.
Mellon, E. W. and Son
Merck Bakery Co.
Midwestern Butane Co.
Minor Construction Co.
Mohr Cigar Co.
Nehi Botding Co.
Railway Express Agency Inc,
216 East "B"
606 South First
1 1 5 North Illinois
1400 North Illinois
1121 North Church
19 North Thirteenth
Construction Co. 222 West "B"
14 Market Square
1600 North Illinois
2701 Old St. Louis Road
225 East Washington
27 North Illinois
301 North Illinois
200 North Twenty-First
2615 West Main
3520 West "A"
319 East Main
409 South Twenty-second
301 South Second
24 West Main
432 South First
709 St. Clair
707 North Illinois
309 South Sixteenth
400 East "B"
1400 North Seventeenth
II North First
Record Printing and Advertising Co.
Reed, Elmer C, Co.
Renth, Elmer A.
Richland Stove Company
Rust, E. C. Plumbing
St. Louis Dairy
Signal Hill Lumber Co.
Sinn, Lacergne Coal Co.
Southwestern Bell Telephone Co.
Sprague Truck Service
Stolze Lumber Co.
Tritt Brothers Belleville
Tritt Brothers and Hoeffken Brothers
Uhl, Andrew M.
Vangenhen and Son
Veile Contracting Co.
Walter, Michael L. Co.
Wegener, Bill and Mel
Yoch Construction Co.
Ziska, Fred M. Coal Co.
Although organized labor existed in Belleville before the
Civil War it was not until April 12, 1891, that a central body
was organized. The officers of the cigar makers' union, headed
by John Ackerman, called this meeting, and Mr. Ackerman
was elected as its first president, with Mr. Frank S. Bums of
the glass blowers' union as its secretary. Eight locals, with a
total membership of more than one thousand persons, were
represented at this meeting. The organization prospered and
expanded rapidly, and in June of that year two more locals
affiliated themselves with it. The original locals, forming this
central body, were the cigar makers, glass blowers, molders,
115 South Illinois
709 West Cleveland
1705 North Illinois
P. O. Box 239
22 North Tenth
105 North Eighth
9300 West Main
9026 West Main
17 North Illinois
213 East "B"
600 South Illinois
National Bank Building
222 West "B"
106 South Ninth
1701 North Church
804 East McKinley
417 South Fourteenth
700 South Illinois
290 South Forty-sixth
INDUSTRY AND LABOR 199
musicians, brewery workers, coal miner, carpenters, and stove
The chief event for labor locally is the Labor Day celebration.
In the morning a big parade is held, which is followed by a
picnic, graced by a state or a national speaker in the afternoon.
With favorable weather it is always a big success as all groups
cooperate to make it such. It was discontinued during World
War I, and again during World War II.
Those who have serv^ed as presidents of the central body are:
John Ackerman, Emile Kirchner, William Monsen, Al Boston,
Adolph Scheske, William Green, James M. Sewall, John Shultz,
Nic Schilling, George E. Boyce, James Borden, Charles Bender,
William Arey, Henry Diller, William Jones, Nick Falcetti,
Thomas Arey, T. J. Hitchings, Charles Markham, Fred H.
Breuer, William T. Christopher, William Jampel, William Neb-
gen, Thomas Cameron, Gust Fritz, Dave Stuart, Walter De-
wein, Jacob Bollman, Floyd Long, S. D. Easter, Al. Towers,
Thomas T. Wright, Ed. Wolters, George Badgley, and Arthur
Al Towers held office as its secretary and publicity agent for
more years than any man in the history of the organization. Mr.
Towers was elected first on December 1, 1912, and served
until he resigned in August, 1916. He returned in October,
1924, and served until the latter part of May, 1937, when he
resigned again. He died on December 22, 1940. Since his
resignation the organization has divided the position, having
now a separate publicity agent and recording secretary.
The Central Trades and Labor body celebrated its golden
anniversary in 1941 with the annual Labor Day parade and
picnic. Roland W. Jung, then mayor, spoke on behalf of the
city and extended congratulations to the workers for their fine
progress and forward movement.
Some of the city's best known men received their training
in parliamentary law at the meetings of the central body which
200 INDUSTRY AND LABOR
served as a school for many of them. Forty-four locals are affili-
ated with it today, and its membership has increased to 10,000,
all of whom cooperate with the affiliated locals.
Belleville is regarded as a strong American Federation of
Labor city. Ninety per cent of its working men either own
their own homes or are buying them.
The present officers of the Central Trades and Labor body
are as follows: George Badgley, president; Irvin Werner,
vice-president; Irwin Breidenbach, treasurer; Paul Schwesig,
secretary; William P. Reichling, business agent; Blanche Helwig,
Rudolph Strothman, Albert G. Young, trustees; Harold Gain,
A Century of Progress
1^) aseball which had its beginning from the English game
of cricket had its beginning in the United States in 1839, but
it was introduced to Belleville in about 1860. The baseball
square which now has been changed to the baseball diamond
was drawn by Alexander Cartwright of New York City in about
1845. The nine man team was first used in Hoboken, New
Jersey in 1846, and the first rules of this game were drawn up
by Mr. Cartwright.
There have been many changes in the game since it was
first plaved in 1839. The catcher did not always stand right
behind the batter, and the batters at first used clubs that were
very thick on the batting end. Stealing bases was not permitted
before 1860, and laying down a bunt was unknown. The catcher
did not use a glove before 1891, and nine balls gave the batter
his base as late as 1880. The catcher did not wear a mask, nor
did he have a chest protector before 1885. If a ball was lost
during the game, all the players had to hunt for it for five
minutes before a new one was tossed in.
The first baseball team to be organized in our city was in
the late 1870's when the Browns came into existence. The
Nationals organized their team in 1885, and these two teams,
which became the outstanding semi-pro clubs of the early days,
202 A CENTURY OF PROGRESS
were both managed by the late Adolph G. Fleischbein, the
uncle of Fred Fleischbein who, until 1946, was connected with
the Belleville Music Store. He was the outstanding sportsman
of early Belleville and was a leader in the sportsman and gun
organization, as well as a writer for a sportsman's magazine.
One of Belleville's early baseball heroes who made good in
the national pastime, in spite of the fact that it was not his
chosen profession was Bob Groom. He had already completed
a year's work as a medical student and hoped to be an out-
standing physician some day, but when the call came to go
to a spring training camp he could not resist. "Long Bob,"
as he was called, pitched a hitless game as a semi-pro for the
old Belleville Simpson Stars in 1903 at the expense of Collins-
ville, who had Art Fletcher, the great New York Yankee coach,
on the mound. While with Portland in the Pacific Coast League
in 1908, Groom pitched a no hit, no run game against Los
Angeles. He was a pitcher for the Washington Senators from
1909 to 1913, with the St. Louis Federals from 1914 to 1915,
and the St. Louis Browns from 1916 to 1917, and with the
Cleveland Indians in 1918. Twenty thousand fans at Sports-
man's park witnessed a no hit, no run game he pitched
with the Browns in 1917 against the Chicago White Sox.
After his baseball career ended he returned to Belleville to
live, indulging in the national pastime only twice thereafter,
once in 1938 and again in 1939 as manager of the two teams
of the American Legion Junior Baseball state champions. He
lived at 1906 West Main street and was president of the Groom
Coal Company, a mine located on the Freeburg Road.
Max Flack, originally of Belleville but now living in East
St. Louis, was another athletic hero, who figured in one of the
strangest baseball incidents in the game's history. In a double-
header between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs,
Max played the first game with the Cards. Between the first
and second game he was traded to the Cubs for Cliff Heath-
A CENTURY OF PROGRESS 203
cothe and played tor the Cubs in the second game of the double-
header. He was a great outfielder and hitter, and helped the
Chicago Cubs win the National League pennant in 1938.
Belleville has been represented in major league baseball by
at least 15 men, past and present, including some that have
lived here all of their lives. They are as follows: Norman
Schlueter, Al Glossop, Al Smith, Lester Mueller, Bob Groom,
Max Flack, George Steuernagel, Hamilton Patterson, Billy
Elwert, Jennings Bryan Patterson, Erwin Kreymeyer, James
Decker, Otis Miller, Clarence Hoffman, Jess Doyle, and George
The high school team, then coached by F. J. Friedli, won
a state championship in 1934 by defeating Bloomington in
a home and home series. Besides producing the championship
team of 1934, his other coaching accomplishments are a no
hit game by Jake Ullrich, four homers in one game by Fred
Smith, one state championship, Les Mueller's strike-out record,
and advance of several Maroons into organized baseball.
The lighted athletic field at Illinois street and Cleveland ave-
nue ranks far above some of those used by the minor league
baseball teams today. Here the Stag Beer team has won its many
victories. The city boasts of three championship teams in the
American Legion Junior Baseball League.
Basketball is belived to be the only game played in the
United States today that is purely American in origin. All
others are direct importations or hybrids of other games in
The Southwestern High School Conference was organized
in 1923 with Collinsville, Belleville, Granite City, Woodriver,
Alton, and Edwardsville as members. In 1924, Mascoutah was
added, and in 1925, Jerseyville, Madison and OTallon joined,
making it a ten team league. In 1926, Mascoutah, OTallon and
Madison dropped out, but East St. Louis joined making it
an eight team organization.
204 A CENTURY OF PROGRESS
Belleville's first football team, known as the Tigers, was
organized in the 1890*s. Ambng its players were William
Hoppe, Dr. John Gunn, William Andel, Arthur Heinzelman,
Ray Daniels, and Ray Whiteside. Just after the turn of the
century the Belleville Bucks Football Team was organized and
these boys made gridiron history in the rough days of that sport.
The team was in existence seven years, disbanding in 1908.
Theirs was an enviable record, for during their last five years
they not only were untied and undefeated, but during that
entire time no opposing team scored or even crossed their goal
line. This great team averaged only 145 pounds a man, but they
beat outfits, including college crews, which outweighed them
nearly 40 pounds a player. Quite a few of the boys were
offered scholarships to play for colleges.
William (Cuddy) Gilbert was its captain. Among its players
were Theodore R. Smith, Edward J. (Mucher) Engler, Ralph
Leunig, William Huber, Arthur Hoffmann, Dr. Harry Reuss,
William W. Underwood, William Powell, Fred Pope, Assistant
County Treausurer J. Paul Moeller, Errol Kraemer, Charles
McCuIlough, and Lawrance Selle. Aloys Hahn acted as their
Following right on the Bucks came the second Tiger team,
which was organized in 1909 with Charles A. Betz as its
manager. Included among its members were Earl (Punk)
Wangelin, Roy Gilber, Ed Biggs, Arthur Ward, Charles Ehing-
er, Ernst Rodenmeyer, J. Rodenmeyer, George Karr, Elmer
Baldus, Wallace Brandenburger, Oscar Neuner, Arthur Spoen-
emann, Ollie Goss, Roland Nebgen, John Keck, John Mowe,
and Albert Loos.
About 1916 the Tigers underwent another revision. Some
of the previous players held over, but added to these were
Severin Poirot, Adolph Brandenburger, John Holtman, Adolph
Fischer, Peter Maurer, John Roach, and Hugo Stark who gave
his life in the first World War.
A CENTURY OF PROGRESS 205
In 1929, the Belleville Township High School football team
was really made up of 1 1 iron men, for in that year they defeated
all the other conference members for the conference football
championship. It was captained by Eddy James Rogers and
coached by Edgar Gunderson. The members of the team were
Leslie Cole, Ernest Glossop, Bernard Cole, Carl Kane, Ellis
Patterson, Robert Aufdenspring, Harley Stiehl, Ralph Coburn,
Walter Rauth, Charles Riegger, Winston Bullington, Relfe
Ehret, and Merlyn Runyon.
With the start of Hubert Tabor's regime as football coach
and the completion of a new stadium at the Township High
School, interest in this particular sport received a boost. Larger
turnouts of candidates for football at both high schools became
evident, the turnout at the Cathedral High School being larger
in proportion to the students enrolled. Charles Gervig and
Elmer Jackson, were placed on the all-state eleven in 1938
and 1939 respectively.
The first championship team produced by Tabor was in
1938 when he had, apparently, eleven perfect gentlemen, and
each of them a star football player. They were Vigil Wagner
and Charles Gervig co-captains, Clyde Wiskamp, Allen Bever-
age, Creighton Cory, Lorraine Schlosser, Bob Seib, John Schell,
William Reichert, Elmer Jackson, Walter Schmisseur, Leroy
Anna, Stewart McCord, Ralph Groh, Edward Dahm, Donald
Le Pere, Warren Taylor, Bill Bevin, Warren Wild, Dean
Johnson, Arthur Corn, Ernst Miller, Robert Moore and Lowell
Grissom. Walter Schmisseur and Warren Wild both made
the supreme sacrifice in World War II. In 1944 and 1949
the team tied with East St. Louis and Alton for the conference
The outstanding annual sports event is the football game be-
tween the Belleville and East St. Louis high schools on the
morning of Thanksgiving Day. This has been a permanent
contest since 1927, and record crowds vdtness the clash every
206 A CENTURY OF PROGRESS
year. The playing field alternates between the two schools,
and both the local high school student body and the general
population are always glad when it is a home game.
The high school athletic grounds consists of five all-weather
tennis courts believed to be the best high school courts in the
state, a running track built to specifications furnished by the
University of Illinois, a girls hockey field, and a new concrete
stadium, complete with a band stand and a press box, and
capable of seating 7,800 persons comfortably.
The stadium was a Works Project Administration project
which was approved by the government in January, 1939,
begun in March of that year. It is 420 feet long, 206 feet wide,
has an underground drainage capacity of 1200 gallons per
minute, a lighting system of five poles on each side with six
reflectors on each, a public address system using four of the
latest type reflex trumpet speakers, a drinking fountain at each
end, which is connected to a copper coil fourteen feet under-
ground holding eight gallons of water, a flag pole 60 feet above
the oround, two rest rooms at the east end, and 106 feet of
exit space that make it possible to empty the stadium in three
minutes. The construction cost was $130,840.00.
The stadium was completed in the spring of 1940 and dedi-
cated on the night of the Belleville Township High School-
Cathedral High School game, October 1„ 1940. C. W. Whitten,
executive secretary of the Illinois High School Association
said that it was one of the finest stadiums in the state. Roland
Jung, then president of the school board delivered an address
at the dedication. The Board of Education consisted of Fred
Merrills, secretary; Dr. Edmund Bechtold, Alvin Stenzel, Dr.
Lester Rauth, Ed Fuhrman, Adolph Viehmann, and Elmer
Roberts. Head coach Hubert Tabor and assistant coach Walter
Rauth were also introduced.
A beautiful American flag was presented to the school by
Commander James Burnett, who represented the American
A CENTURY OF PROGRESS 207
Legion. While the high school band played "The Star Spangled
Banner," the Hag was raised to the top of the sixty-foot pole
flooded by two spot lights. It was accepted by H. G. Schmidt,
principal, who then introduced F. J. Friedli the athletic director,
who has since been replaced by C. A. Armstrong in 1945,
who took charge of the rest of the program. After a few remarks
he presented Brother Wilfred P. Moran, S.M., Ph.D. who
spoke for the Cathedral High School.
For a while there had been a decline in tennis at the high
school, but Fred Nafziger, the new coach, was largely instru-
mental in reviving it. Past tennis champions include Ellar Daab,
Elmer Hirth, and Howard Braun. Five very modern courts
have been built at the high school.
Great records in track and field events have been made at
the Township High School of late. Coach Ted Harpstreit's
Maroons in 1939 and again in 1944 were the most outstanding
in the history of the school. Wrestling, sport recently added to
the school athletic program, is coached by Walter Rauth.
Although no conference championship team has as yet been
produced, Elmer Jackson, a member of the team, was the first
boy to ever win a state title for the local high school, and it
happened to be in this newest sport.
Belleville is no doubt one of the greatest bowling cities for
its size in the United States. There are nine bowling alleys in
w^hich various leagues play every night except Saturday and
Interest in boxing has been revived by the monthly amateur
Golf too is a favorite sport. Belleville has one eighteen hole
grass green, the St. Clair Country Club, and three nine
hole grass and sand fee courses at Westhaven Golf Course,
Belleville Golf Course, and Oakhill's Golf Course.
In 1939 there was a revival of league competition in horse-
shoe pitching, with special matches taking place all over the
208 A CENTURY OF PROGRESS
city. The ringer record holder was Richard Wedel.
Harold Groh brought athletic honors home when he won
the Big Ten diving tide in 1927-28 as a member of the
University of Illinois swimming team.
Strange as it may seem, Amos Thompson, who never owned
a gun and killed only one deer during his lifetime— and that
was accidental— had a son, Cyrus, who became Belleville's great-
est big game hunter. Accompanied by Dr. C. P. Renner and
Oliver Joseph, he made several trips into the southwestern
part of Canada, as well as into the western mountain states for
big game. There he brought down moose, elk, deer, antelope,
bear, foxes, lynx, wild cats, mountain lions, mountain goats,
wolves, and coyotes. Cyrus Thompson lived to the ripe old age
of 92, passing away in 1937. So famous had he become as a
hunter that the leading sportsmen's magazine of the country
requested him to write of his experiences, and his stories made
him a national figure in big game hunting.
Other sports engaged in are horse back riding, fishing,
bicycling, motorcycling, pigeon racing, pocket billiards, soft
ball, table tennis, and trap shooting. The last mentioned takes
place at the Randle Country Club, and its crack shots are Roy
Christmann, Arthur W. Bischoff, and Oscar and Julian Scheske.
In August 1950, Oscar Scheske won the National Trap Shoot
at Vandalia, Ohio.
CULTURE AND RECREATION
Cities play the dominant role in the evolution of human
culture. This is true because urban life powerfully influences
the cultural interests of the entire community. The city is
also a controlling factor in national life, for as the city is, so
is the nation. City people supply most of the national leader-
ship. Through the daily press and the radio the city dominates
public opinion. It sets the fashions— in morals, in manner, and
A CENTURY OF PROGRESS 209
in dress. The ideals of the nation are determined by the in-
fluential elements in its population.
Music ranks high in the culture of any city. The Germans
who setded here brought with them their traditional love of
music and song. Belleville's earliest musical organization, a
singing society begun in 1855 and called the Saenger Bund,
was definitely the outstanding singing society of this community.
It gave its concerts at the old City Park Theater.
Belleville has had its native composers. The first one was
John Brosius, who, in August 1863, composed a waltz entided
"Belleville" or "Schoenestadt." Then there was H. G. Paro,
who on October 11, 1895, composed the "Company D March."
This proved quite a success, for it was played by John Phillip
Sousa's band in St. Louis.
The Belleville Band, the city's first, was organized in the
early 1840's. Frederick Krimmel was its president and Peter
Wilding its secretary. It dissolved in the summer of 1846.
Early in 1860, including both string and wind instruments,
the Saxe Horn Band, was organized with Professor James as
its director, and its headquarters in the northeast corner of Main
and High streets. Its leader was John W. Hillim, its captain,
A. L. McKane, and members John C. Hart, Charles Fleisch-
bein, William R. Neighbors, Hugh Harrison, John Thoma,
Charles and Thomas Fleming, John and Thomas Schoupe, and
In the early sixties Frank Boehm also conducted a band,
which in 1864 gave free concerts at the City Park Garden,
the present site of the abandoned Budweiser Garden on West
A street, between North First and North Second streets.
In 1865, the Bavarian Band was organized, and for many
years it was the outstanding one in the entire community. Its
name was derived from the fact that its members had all come
from Bavaria, Germany. John Maurer, its leader for a number
of years, resigned in 1883 to accept the position of orchestra
210 A CENTURY OF PROGRESS
leader in the Kansas City, Missouri, Grand Opera House.
1881 saw the organization of the Concordia Band, which
for many years was under the direction of John W. Marsh,
with M. J. Baumgarten as its manager. It, too, had a high
rating, and for many years it and the Bavarian Band were real
rivals for musical honors. However, in the fall of 1899, a con-
solidation of these two bands was effected under the leadership
of Professor Charles Krieger.
Professor Edwin Mayr, an able musician, organized a band
in 1906. However, it was not until the American Legion Band
came into being in 1924 that Belleville once more had a
spectacular and ribbon-winning musical organization.
Today both the grade schools and the Township High
School have splendid bands, as do also the parochial schools.
On November 19, 1866, a group of musicians organized an
orchestral musical society called the Philharmonics, which gave
its first concert on January 26, 1867. The organizers were Dr.
Carl Neubert, Carl Magin, Henry Viehmann, Martin Medar,
Theodore Decker, Martin Hess, and Christopher Espenhain.
It is still in existence and claims to be the second oldest musical
organization of its kind in the United States. Its conductors
have been: Theodore Decker, 1866-69; Julius Liese, 1869-85;
Gustave A. Neubart, 1885-1910; Dr. Adolph Hansing, 1910-11;
Fred A. Kern, 1911-14; Frederick Fischer, 1914-19; Carl J.
Magin, 1919-22; J. W. Marsh, 1922-36; Edwin Peters, 1936-39;
Don S. Foster, 1939-43; Rudolph Magin, 1943-51.
We of the present generation should pause in sober reflection
to pay respects to those responsible for maintaining an organiza-
tion that has played such as important part in the cultural life
of our city. We should pay tribute and do homage to men like
Julius Liese, Gustav Neubart, John Marsh, Carl Magin, and
Edwin Peters, whose inspiring leadership and untiring devotion
as conductors made possible the splendid organization of the
A CENTURY OF PROGRESS 211
The Liederkranz Society, organized in February 1873, was
a choral and social group. In 1883 it bought the Heinrich
Opera House for its permanent home and rechristening it the
Liederkranz Hall, used it for all of its brilliant concerts until
disposing of it to the American Legion, whose home it now is.
The greatest of all events in the lives of the members of the
various groups was the Saenger Fest. Once a year all musical
groups combined and would compete in a festival of song. It
was for years one of the highlights of the town.
In 1878, the Thespian Club, an amateur dramatical organiza-
tion of young men and women, was organized, sponsored by
Mrs. Charles Thomas and Mr. Ernest Hilgard. Timber for
its amateur productions was drawn from the social register of
the town bv a man named Schrieber, and its performances
became so outstanding that upon invitations they were presented
in St. Louis. On the programs appeared such names as George
K. Thomas, George Rogers, George Stanley, Fred Snyder,
W. R. Merker, Lee Harrison, A. W. Stuart, Lena Abend,
Gulla Scheel, Helen P. Abend, Mamie Boneau and Alice
Our earliest singing society the Kronthal Liedertafel, was
named after Kronthal, Germany, the former home of Brosius, in
whose residence their first rehearsals were held. This house, later
the home of Mrs. Frank Perrin, was built as a replica of a castle
in Kronthal. As the society grew its rehearsals were held at
various times in the old Belleville House, above the Savings
Bank, and above the Jackson Street Engine House. Concerts
were given four times a year and these were held either in the
Cit\' Park Opera House or in the Liederkranz Hall.
A small faction of Liederkranz members, breaking away
from that society in February 1903, organized the Choral Sym-
phony Society, which for a number of years contained some
of the best vocal talent in the city. L. D. Turner, Sr., was its
first president, and Ludwig Carl was its director. Participating
212 A CENTURY OF PROGRESS
in a choral contest at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904, it
made quite a showing, receiving a commemorative medal from
the World's Fair Association, and remained active until about
The Cecelia Chorus, an organization composed exclusively
of women, was organized in 1911, gaining great popularity
from the very first. It was organized by Sophia Rhein, who
directed it in a talented musical way so that much of the
success that was achieved by the organization was due to her
energy, ability, and talent. "Something new and different" was
Miss Rhein's motto in forming the organization, which in
1914 had a membership of fifty. The charter members were:
Mrs. P. K. Johnson, Mrs. George Brechnitz, Miss Josephine
Baker, Mrs. Fred Fleischbein, Miss Lillian Fuess, Mrs. Charles
Harrison, Mrs. Lee Harrison, Mrs. Charles Huggins, Mrs.
Rogers Hyde, Mrs. George Hilgard, Mrs. Philip Knapp, Miss
Virginia Krebs, Mrs. Ralph Leunig, Mrs. Harry Lederer, Mrs.
Josephine Merck, Miss Loisel Merker, Mrs. Frank Rogers,
Miss Kate Meng, Miss Georgia Reichert, Miss Margaret
Thomas, Miss Edna Sikkema, Miss Mary Turner, Miss Maude
Underwood, Miss Sophia Rhein, Mrs. Carl Weingaertner, Miss
Augusta Wilderman, Mrs. Hugh Wilderman, Miss Jessie
Wilderman, and Miss Posey Woelk.
On August 24, 1906, the St. Clair County Historical Museum,
which occupied a room in the basement of the Court House,
was established. This museum contained all the old French
records of Illinois dating back more than 200 years, and many
other rare documents contributed by various citizens interested
in early histor)^ These were moved to the State Historical
Society in Springfield in 1948.
The Belleville Daily Advocate has for some years concerned
itself with spreading Christmas cheer among the needy through
its annual Empty Stocking Fund. Ever since 1918, it has
appealed at Christmas time for funds to be used in preparing
A CENTURY OF PROGRESS 213
baskets of food and gifts for the poor families of our city,
especially for the children who otherwise might face the
tragedy of truly "Empty Stockings" on Christmas Day.
On March 24, 1920, the Parent-Teachers Association which
has become a vital and active branch of the school system, was
formed. Its first officers were Mr. C. A. Grossart, Wilhelmina
Benignus, Walt Marsh and Arthur Niemeyer.
Fraternal organizations have been part of the community
since an early day. Among those in existence are the Masons,
Elks, Moose, Odd Fellows, Eagles, Knights of Phytias, and
Modem Woodmen. The Catholic fraternal orders include the
Knights of Columbus, Holy Name, St. Vincent de Paul, and
Daughters of Isabella. The Masons are represented by Royal
and Selected Masters, Knight Templars, De Molay, Eastern
Star, Job's Daughters and Rainbow.
The first Masonic Lodge was organized on December 14,
1843, as St. Clair Lodge No. 24 A. F. and A.M., with John
C. Teel as its First Worshipful Master. On June 10, 1922,
the chapter of De Molay was organized with thirty-three charter
members. Calvin Mank was chosen to head the new order.
On April 30, 1899 the Elks were organized with seventy-five
charter members, and on November 17, 1910, the Elks Home
was officially dedicated with District Grand Exalted Ruler
Rich presiding at the ceremonies.
Other civic organizations include the Rotary Club, Optimists,
Lions, South Side Improvement Association, West Side Im-
provement Association, Safety Council, and the Chamber of
Commerce. Also of service have been the Women's Club,
Business and Professional Women's Club, the League of Wom-
en Voters, and the Junior Chamber of Commerce.
Among the patriotic organizations are the George E. Hilgard
Post of the American Legion with its women's auxiliary, the
St. Clair County Chapter of the Red Cross, the Daughters of
the American Revolution, the Hecker Woman's Relief Corps,
214 A CENTURY OF PROGRESS
the Memorial Day Association, and the Spanish American War
The Hecker Post No. 433 Grand Army of the RepubHc
was organized in Belleville on May 6, 1884, by veterans of
the Civil War. It was named after one of them, the patriot and
statesman Colonel Frederick Hecker, who had also been one
of the leaders of the revolution in Germany in 1848. Today none
The Hecker Women's Relief Corps was organized in 1892
with a membership of forty women. Mrs. Elisa Kueffner was
elected its first president. It devotes its activities to charity and
patriotic work. One of its presidents, the late Carrie Thomas
Alexander Bahrenburg, served as president to both the Illinois
and the national body of the Relief Corps.
The local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolu-
tion was organized on August 31, 1916, in the assembly room
of the Public Library. Its membership is composed of lineal
descendants of soldiers of the American Revolution, who have
banded together to preserve the ideals propounded by their
patriotic ancestors. It strives to perpetuate the memory of the
heroic deeds of men and women whose devotion and sacrifices
have made this nation possible. Its motto is: "Home and coun-
try, the two essentials in our democracy." On September 13,
1941, it celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary. Its regent then
was Mrs. F. E. Schneidewind. Among the guests at that celebra-
tion were Mrs. O. H. Christ, Danville, Illinois, state regent;
Mrs. John Trigg of St. Louis, national parliamentarian; Miss
Helen McMackin of Salem, Illinois, national chairman of
manuals; and Mrs. Manford Cox of Robinson, Illinois, director
of the sixth division.
An auxiliary to the United Spanish War Veterans was
organized in 1923 with Mrs. Mary Hubert as its first president.
The wives, mothers, and sisters of these soldiers, working hard,
have accomplished some worthwhile results.
A CENTURY OF PROGRESS 215
The Memorial Fountain located on the Public Square was
built as a monument to Belleville soldiers participating in any
previous wars. It was the solution to the question as to what
kind of memorial to build, for there was much opposition to
a statue representing war. The majority preferred something
that would beautify the square instead of constandy reminding
them of by-gone wars.
The difficulties of building and financing a fountain were
solved by public subscription. The labor unions volunteered
to donate their services and without them the fountain could
never have been built for its cost would have been prohibitive.
On May 22, 1937, the digging of the pump chambers, and
a room 16 by 24 was ready for the pouring of the concrete.
This excavation proved very interesting for it uncovered four
old cisterns in the center of the Public Square, that had been
used bv our early fire departments.
The fountain was designed by Herbert Schwind. Hoeffken
Brothers donated their digger, and the outer rim was constructed
under the direction of Calvin Johnson. Seventy-five loads of
ground were donated for the landscaping, while the sod, which
was given by Albert Seiber, was laid by Fred Bonhardt. Arthur
Buesch donated and planted the shrubs. The ornamental stone
that was used was donated by Ben F. Affleck, of Chicago, a
Installation of pumps began September 25, 1937, two being
put in, one of high pressure and the other of low. The high
pressure pump forces the water through many pipes to form the
various aquatic formations, having power enough to force the
water fifty-five feet into the air. The low pressure pump forms
the cascade over the lip of the fountain. The water falls into
the surrounding circular pond draining back again to the pump
to be circulated up and over the fountain. The mechanism is
noiseless when in operation and is accessible from a man hole
in the grass plot.
216 A CENTURY OF PROGRESS
The Memorial Fountain was dedicated on October 23, 1937,
with Dr. Cameron Harmon as the speaker. It was officially
lighted by Betty Jane Schwind, the daughter of its designer.
It can be seen on Main street as far west as Fifth street, as far
east as Walnut street, north to Lebanon Avenue, and south
to McKinley. The Memorial Fountain was made possible only
through the unselfish efforts of civic-minded individuals and
organizations, and it stands today as one of the finest tributes
to the spirit of our citizens.
Belleville's Chamber of Commerce is an active one, and
its program covers every phase of the city's life. At present
there are 190 men serving on its various committees. It is divided
into, and operates on, a departmental basis, the five divisions
being industrial, civic, commercial, agriculture, and organization.
At the present time its president is Wesley Bloomer, Walter
E. Wagner is the secretary-manager.
The first park used for outdoor recreation was Huff's Garden
now the Knights of Pythias Park, 900 West Main street. It
was long the center of west Belleville's gay life.
In the southwest part of the city was Eimer's Hill, which in
early days was also a favorite picnic ground. Today it has been
Priester's Park, managed by Frank Priester, was built in
1899 and soon became a most pretentious amusement center.
It covered an area of 88 acres and included athletic fields, race
courses, roller coaster, dance pavilions, a restaurant, and beer
gardens. In 1906, it became a private institution and was called
The Priester's Park Driving and Country Club. Today its
buildings and grounds form a part of the huge campus of St.
On May 28, 1922, the first public park to be owned by the
city was dedicated and formally named Bellevue Park. On
this occasion the principal speaker was Mr. John Gundlach
who was one of the pioneers in the park and playground move-
A CENTURY OF PROGRESS 217
ment in St. Louis. Other speakers were Dr. J. K. Conroy and
Mayor Joseph Anton. WilHam Twenhoefel, city plan commis-
sioner, was master of ceremonies. The gift of this park site
to the people of Belleville was made possible through the
generosity of the Board of Trade.
On September 18, 1923, ground was broken for the erection
of the new $100,000 Turner Hall.
On August 3, 1925, the South Side Park of Belleville con-
sisting of six and one-healf acres of land was formally dedicated
and opened for public use.
All cities should have parks and playground areas. Long
experience in many cities proves that they can be supported
with little difficulty. There should be at least ten acres of
park for each thousand of population. Of this, approximately
one third of three acres per thousand, should be utilized for
FIFTY YEARS OF PROGRESS 1850-1900
Belleville was incorporated as a village in 1819 and as a
citv in 1850. It adopted the charter of the city of Springfield,
Illinois, and Theodore J. Krafft was elected its first mayor.
The government of the city was then conducted by a mavor
and eight aldermen, two from each of the four wards. The
other cit)' officials were a register, marshal, treasurer, attorney,
assessor, collector, surveyor and engineer, chief of fire depart-
ment, weigher and market master, street inspector, captain of
night police, captain of day police, superintendent of work-
house, sexton, and city scavenger.
The most important street in this town of 5000 population
was East iMain street, and was also the first street to be improved,
for in 1850 it was given a cover of crushed rock to counteract
the mud and dust. It was further improved when on June 10,
1877, the citv council ordered it to be paved with cedar blocks
to Walnut street. Remnants of this type of paving remained
218 A CENTURY OF PROGRESS
as late as 1930, when the last of it was removed on the street
leading to the St. Clair Country Club.
Street fairs, the predecessor of the homecomings, attained
their popularity in the late nineties. They, too, had their queens,
parades, and carnivals which were not only attended by the
whole town but also by the surrounding country.
At the time of the California gold rush a number of Belle-
villeans, lured by the mirage of easy money and great riches,
hit the trail for the Great West. Tradition has it that they were
given good advice before they left, for they were warned that
the road was long and dreary, that they would be without meat,
flour, food, and water, and would find no grass in many places.
They were jokingly advised to take a file with them, for if
their trusty rifle should actually get a buffalo they would first
have to file their teeth so they could eat it.
They were also informed that if they got sick on the road
they had better keep toddling along. If they didn't and should
by any chance lie along the road an Indian would come along
and they'd be minus a scalp, they were told.
As a last bit of advice they were given the comforting
assurance that should any of them perish on the way, a little
hole three feet deep would be dug where they'd be buried and
where that night the wolves would hold a council over their
grave, prior to a digging-up party.
How many hit the treacherous, heart-breaking trail to the
Pacific is not recorded, but it is known that many came back
sadly disappointed and poorer than they were before. Some
came back to further disillusionment, for after an absence of
ten or fifteen years, to their dismay, some found their mates
happily married to others, after uncertain rumors had it that the
first husband had been killed by the Indians.
By 1854 Belleville had enlarged its area, increased its wealth,
and more than doubled the amount of improvements to its
streets. The manufacturers were expanding and increasing their
A CENTURY OF PROGRESS 219
trade. Most of the early settlers that came from the east brought
with them large families. Those that came from Virginia and
other southeastern states brought their slaves, and their right
to keep them was at once questioned.
At the same time run-away slaves were not tolerated. Any
Negro who could not present the proper credentials of freedom
to the county authorities was regarded by law as a run-away
slave. He was arrested, held in the county jail, and the
sheriff advertised his arrest. If the owner did not reclaim him
within six weeks he was sold into slavery for a period of one
year, at the end of which time legally, at least, he was entitled
to his freedom unless the original owner appeared.
Belleville had more run-away slaves than most communities,
since it was located on the route between Virginia and Missouri,
and the wealthy planters traveling between the two states always
passed through the city.
On November 11, 1841, the town's local paper carried the
following run-away negro advertisement: "Taken up and com-
mitted to jail on the third of November, 1841 in the county
of St. Clair, State of Illinois, a Negro who calls himself Jordan
and says he formerly had been ownied in Richmond County,
Virginia, by Newman Flanagan but was sold at public auction
and does not know his present owner. He is five feet nine,
weight 175 and is about 28 years old. His owner must prove
his property within six weeks or said Negro will be dealt with
according to law."
It was openly contended by many people that slave owners
should move to Missouri, while those not having slaves should
settle in the free state of Illinois, and that Negroes who remained
in this state for ten days with the purpose of becoming a resident
should be fined fiftv dollars. If they were unable to pay their
services they should be sold at public auction.
On April 7, 1857, a mulatto named Jackson Redman made
the fatal mistake of leaving Pennsylvania, was arrested, tried,
220 A CENTURY OF PROGRESS
and convicted for the misdemeanor under the IlHnois law.
On April 18, 1857, at one o'clock in the afternoon, his services
were to be sold to any person who paid the said fine and costs.
The appearance of this ad brought a storm of protest on the
justice of the peace, who was only performing his duty in
enforcing the law.
On the day of the sale the great humanitarian Gustav Koerner,
without much ado, paid the fifty dollar fine and immediately
turned the Negro free. By court decision a Negro living here
for a period of five years automatically became a free citizen.
Many slave-owning families therefore left the state.
One of the most tragic chapters of local history was that
written by the cholera epidemic, which originated in St. Louis
in the summer of 1849 and swept away nearly 300 people in
a month's time. Medical men were unable to check it, and the
dreaded disease continued to ravage the lives of the people.
It wiped out entire families who were helpless against its
To prevent the spread of the disease, the people were caution-
ed to purify the air and keep the streets in a sanitary condition,
which was done by sprinkling them generously with slaked
lime. Lime was also abudandy spread on private premises, but
better than this large fires of coal tar and sulphur were kept
burning day and night, and yet everywhere people were dying.
The hopeful housewife, fearing for the lives of her loved ones,
listened and followed every new suggestion by the doctors,
some of whom recommended the burning of coffee beans,
boiling vinegar continuously, and pouring coal tar on the top
of the stove to smother out all impurities of the air. The
epidemic raged on, however, and approximately two-thirds of
all cases were fatal. Not only was this true here but also in
St. Louis, East St. Louis, Mascoutah, Collinsville, and Lebanon.
The disease spared neither young, middle-aged nor old. It had
no regard for the hale and hearty man, the tender and hand-
A CENTURY OF PROGRESS 221
some youth, nor the kind and gentle woman.
Since then medical science has discovered that cholera is a
bacterial disease and that the germ is spread through drinking
water, foods, and by the common house-fly. Like today's in-
fluenza, the cholera epidemic of old struck and and then de-
parted after having run its fatal course.
The homes in the earlier days were very sturdy. Sunbaked
bricks, hand-hewn white oak beams, and plaster of clay and
straw were the basic materials for the houses of over a century
ago. Heavy weather boarding was apparendy the vogue in the
construction of the frame houses. Inner walls were of hand
molded bricks made of native clay and baked in the sun.
Wood, now used only in high-grade furniture could be found
in many parts of the home, for often they had walnut window
sills and wild cherry panels.
The cooking stove was an innovation, for the earlier homes
had fireplaces supplied with ketde hooks, which gave the family
hearth its real meaning. But with the coming of the stove the
city in time became the stove center of the world.
Commercial soap in pioneer days was an unknown commo-
dity. At intervals, usually dictated by the supply on hand, a
time was set aside for the making of soap. This was cooked in
a large iron ketde which generally stood on a tripod in the
The bathtub, too, was rare, largely because of the difficulty
in heating the home. It was introduced in the early seventies
and was nothing more than a box-like affair lined with zinc.
Since there was no running water it was filled by carrying the
water that had been heated on a stove beforehand.
It was at this time that a city ordinance was passed regulating
the speed of driving catde or horses through the streets. The
law read that they must not be driven faster than four miles
an hour nor must they be driven with dogs, and anyone guilty
of violating this law would be fined from $3.00 to $25.00.
222 A CENTURY OF PROGRESS
It must have been difficult to measure their speed, for speed-
ometers were then unknown.
Another ordinance regulated the cost of digging a grave
according its depth. One of three feet or less depth cost 75
cents, one four feet, $1.00, while that of more than four feet,
After the Mexican War, 1846-48, returning soldiers wore
beards, the most popular of which were the English side whisk-
ers. This new style was not adopted at once by the local people,
but in 1854, when the barbers agreed that the price of a shave
should be 10 cents instead of the prevailing charge of 5 cents,
there was loud and long wailing by the masculine element.
To make their protests more effective, they organized a beard
growers society and not only adopted, but also published this
resolution: Resolved: "That the lather used by the aforemention-
ed barbers, being of a quality which is calculated to advance
the growth of the beard, we emphatically enter our protest
against the agreement referred to unless the barbers also agree
to use nothing but the common castile for lather."
The development of agriculture in this area was constant.
The German immigrants brought from their native land a
knowledge of the intensive methods of farming. Although the
soil was rich, the German farmer unfailingly reclaimed all
wasteland and also improved methods of crop rotations. Their
thrift and love of the beautiful led to the well improved farms
of today. Wheat at the time averaged 20 to 28 bushels per acre,
and in 1851 it sold for 65 cents a bushel. However, in 1867,
it had risen to $3.70 a bushel and this community produced
about six hundred thousand bushels a year.
Although the second panic in 1857 hit many communities
very hard, business here remained good. The streets remained
lively with wagons from the country, bringing produce for cash
and goods. Eever^'where one could still hear the sound of the
hammer and saw, indicating that work was plentiful. Every-
A CENTURY OF PROGRESS 223
where one heard the query, "Do you know of a house for rent?"
All were happy and prosperous.
The reaper had now been invented and the old, back-breaking
cradle and sickle were on the way out. The threshing separator
separted the wheat grain from the straw at the time of threshing
and the farmer could now raise much more wheat. It was then
that the old threshing circuits, long famous for their jolting
wagons, the pitching to the machine, the stream of straw
and chaff from the blower, and the bountiful dinners came into
existence. But even these good old days have gone with the
wind, for most farmers now own their own combines.
Coffee, as we know it today, was a luxury that could be
enjoyed only by the rich during the Civil War days, and the
poor housewife besides her many other tasks had to roast the
coffee substitutes such as barley, wheat, sweet potatoes, corn
and even, at times, acorns.
By 1862 Belleville had not only grown in size but had
become more beautiful. A Chicago newspaper referred to it
as a beautiful little village. Much had been done to make it
a safe place in which to live, and in 1867 the city council
passed an ordinance making it a misdemeanor to cast or throw
stones or any other missiles upon or at any building, tree, or
public or private property, or at any person. Anyone doing
so was subject to a fine not exceeding $5.00.
That same city also regarded kite flying as dangerous, and
to curb it the following ordinance was passed: "Whoever shall,
on any highway, or thoroughfare of this city, fly a kite, or use
any sport or exercise likely to scare horses, injure passengers,
or embarass the passengers of vehicles, shall be deemed guilty
of a misdemeanor and subject to a fine."
By 1870 Belleville had a total of forty miles of street, 16
miles of which had already been paved and could be travelled
safely at all times of the year, and twenty miles of sidewalk
had been laid.
224 A CENTURY OF PROGRESS
During an era of prosperity Lady Nicotine soothes the hearts
of men a httle faster or a Httle more than at any other time.
The white man learned the art of using tobacco from the
Indians, Sir Walter Raleigh being the first prominent white
man to smoke the "vile weed." Local men could now go to
the cigar store and buy half Spanish cigars, snuff, and smoking
or chewing tobacco. Gentlemen who preferred chewing to
smoking, or inhaling of snuff were kept well supplied, for
chewing then was much more popular than it is today, and the
spitters were also much more accurate.
Before the invention of cigar making machines, the one-man
cigar factories dotted all the cities. Here the cigar-maker would,
with nimble fingers, ply his chosen trade. Whenever a customer
bought a box of these hand-made cigars (then called segars)
the proprietor would present him with an extra one. The cigars
were graded into first, second and third quality, and the
particular quality one smoked usually determined his economic
rather than his social rank— a sort of caste system still carried
on today in the dime, two-for-a-quarter, and quarter brands.
Pipe smoking followed later in popularity, with the result
that many brands of pipes appeared on the market. The old
Germans always brought with them from the fatherland their
traditional Meerschaum pipe. To accidentaly break a friend's
Meerschaum was a serious offense, second only to that of
stealing his wife.
Snuff with all of its snuffing was definitely on its way
out, as apparently chewing is today. No longer does one see
snuff-stained shirts nor do as many brass cuspidors line the bar.
With the passing of these, the cigarette has been ushered in,
as a result of World War I, and more likely, to the effect of
high powered advertising. The introduction of the cigarette
at first brought a deluge of condemnation, and cigar or pipe
smoking fathers would not permit a cigarette smoking youngster
to court his daughters.
A CENTURY OF PROGRESS 225
By 1870 a very extensive system of agricultural manufacturing
was being done in this city. $300,000 worth of these implements
were sold annually, with two iron and brass factories kept busy
supplying the wants of these factories.
Although the Richland Creek is small, its history is a color-
ful one. In all probability it got its name from the fact that
it flows through rich agricultural lands. As a stream it has
never behaved too well, for at times it is a rampaging litde
river, while at other times it is almost entirely dry. It has
marked the dividing line between East and West Belleville and
as such has been the scene of many a battle between East and
West Belleville youths in the early days. East Belleville always
regarded itself superior in all respects in those days and the
expression "He's a West End tough" had much significance
Richland Creek in the early days was not only a dividing
line but was also the local Rhine river, for many were the
young people who kept the "watch on the Rhine." It was,
however, never fortified, but some of the battles were perhaps
just as violent, even though the casualties amounted only to
black eyes and bloody noses. The boys on opposite sides carried
on eternal vigilance, challenging one another to cross the line.
Under such watchful eyes, it must have required courage and
a strong right arm at times, to seek the hand of a girl on the
other side. Happily those animosities are things of a by-gone
It was on its banks just south of the city that Kickapoos
usually camped after their raiding parties on the American
Bottoms. Here on several occasions the terrified white captives
pondered their fate as they lay bound in the red man's camp.
Partly because of its rampages and partly because it was
blamed for chills and fever, Richland Creek lost its good reputa-
tion. Some thought it caused the cholera epidemic in 1849,
and perhaps rightly so, for the stream after every overflow
226 A CENTURY OF PROGRESS
left pools of Stagnant water that smelled obnoxiously, and were
breeding grounds for mosquitoes and disease germs.
Its overflows have come with regularity. The first was
recorded in 1848 when the creek became so large that it
proceeded to sweep in its path all existing bridges, down to the
On the night of March 4, 1897, a very heavy rain storm
sent the creek out its banks so hurriedly that some of the
flood refugees had to be rescued from their homes by boats.
So heavy were the rains that the dam at Lake Christine broke
and let a perfect Niagara of water into the already swollen
creek, adding to the great damage. Gaping holes occurred
into which the water swirled, even rushing into the coal
mines. The Oakhill Mine and all slope mines were thus flooded.
On August 19, 1915, occurred another damaging flood. For
the first time since the West Main street concrete bridge had
been built, water swirled over it for several hours. Hundreds
of rowboats rescued people from second-story windows. The
power plant was flooded, cutting off all power, and damage
in the city was estimated at $100,000.
The town of West Belleville was laid out on a hill on the
west bank of Richland Creek in the year 1852, the land being
part of a two hundred acre farm owned by Theodore Erasmus
Hilgard. In 1861, there were six hundred inhabitants, and in
that year it offically incorporated itself and adopted the name
of West Belleville. The little village had its own institutions,
for in 1855 a brick school was built with one large room for
classes and two smaller ones for the teacher and his family. It
also had its own market house on the West End Square at
Eleventh street, its own Western Brewery and its own distillery.
By 1874, its population had increased to 2500 inhabitants, with
many nationalities represented, but with Germans predomi-
As time went on, there arose a mutual desire to merge the
A CENTURY OF PROGRESS 227
two independent communities into one, for it was believed
much could be gained by each in such a merger. So, in an
election held to vote on the issue on April 18, 1882, the people
of both towns approved the merger, and three days later, April
21, 1882, West Belleville officially became a part of Belleville.
On Saturday night, April 26, 1882, the ratification celebration
was held at Huff's Garden, now the Knights of Pythias Park,
where events of importance for West Belleville always took
place. A large parade, headed by a blaring band, marched to
the Public Square where the procession was joined by the
citizens of East Belleville, and together they marcehd back
to the park. The night was rainy, the streets were muddy, but
the crowd was large. Here, promises were exchanged to forget
all past animosities and to work together in harmony so that
the new city might prosper.
Belleville had now begun its move to the west. It was
because of the mining industry that its westward expansion
continued, for a string of mining settlements had sprung up be-
tween the city and the bluffs.
The stories of the weather today are much less interesting
than those in the past. Facts and predictions today are based
upon scientific measurements which are undebatable and which
take the personal touch from all weather accounts. Early people
had leeway. The best judges of the weather were the older
residents, who had lived through more of it and therefore re-
membered the days that were colder, the rains that were heavier,
and the summers that were hotter. Blizzards, the oldest inha-
bitants could recall, appeared with the regularity of a clock.
One storv relates how, during the winter of 1885, the tracks
of the Cairo Short Line, now the Illinois Central were so
blocked bv snow that the cars were entirely buried beneath
the drifts. The passengers suffered extremelv from cold and
hunger because there was no settlement or house nearby from
which to obtain food or fuel. A gentlemen in one of the trains
228 A CENTURY OF PROGRESS
had a couple of dogs with him which were killed and eaten by
the starving party.
Another tale tells that during the cold winter of 1856, the
Mississippi River was frozen solid for 64 days. In fact, the
ice was so thick that people rode horseback across it. Then there
was the blizzard of all blizzards in 1890 when eighteen to
twenty inches of snow fell, and all roads and railroads were
Medical science today assures us that aged and rheumatic
people are not as reliable in measuring the temperature as is
The hailstorm that surpassed them all rattled down on Belle-
ville on April 16, 1918. So severe was it that the roofs that
had been rain-proof became like a sieve, and cars and buggytops
were peppered with holes. Thousands of window panes were
Most residents today remember the tornado of March 15,
1938, that blew in from the southwest at 5 o'clock that after-
noon. It demolished the Union Grade School, ruined Suppiger's
cannery, crossed Main street at the Southern crossing, flattened
out homes in a four block area, took a total of twelve lives
and did $500,000 worth of property damage. Many in the east
end of town were unaware of its happening until four hours
By 1884, Belleville was a thriving substantial community of
16,000 people. It had more than fifty miles of improved streets
most of them illuminated by electric lights while some were
still lit by gas furnished by an extensive gas works with a capa-
city to meet all needs both public and private.
It was evident at this time that Belleville was fast becoming
industrialized. The city had acquired good government. There
was law and order. The schools compared favorably with any.
Churches administered to the spiritual hfe. The city was on its
y ' It s early as 1917 it was becoming more and more ap-
parent that future wars would no longer be fought only on
and below the earth's surface, but also in the air, and that
more men were going to be needed to fly the ever-increasing
number of planes. With this in mind the War Department in
June, 1917, purchased a field a mile square near Belleville,
which was to be used as a training center for aviators. $10,000-
000 was appropriated by Congress for its construction, and two
thousand laborers and carpenters were immediately put to work.
Actual building was begun in June, 1917, and work was
pushed so feverishly that it was completed in September of
the same year, for the United States was really in need of
airplane pilots and fields on which to train them. The area
was small and the buildings looked like hastily constructed
crates. Seeing the present base, one would hardly realize that
it could ever have been so small.
Although it may be the opinion of a few of the old-timers
that the installation was originally called Avia Field, such is
not the case, as Avia was merely the name of the railroad station
of the Southern Railroad located a short distance away. Follow-
ing the usual procedure of naming aviation fields in honor
of American fliers who had distinguished themselves, this one
was named Scott Field later changed to Scott Air Force Base,
in honor of Cpl. Frank S. Scott, who met death in an exper-
230 IN WAR
imental flight in the first army aviation school at College Park,
Maryland, in 1912.
In August, 1917, while construction work still going on and
with its 75 buildings not yet completed, three hundred soldiers
arrived for duty. In September four airplanes were received,
the first of the 72 planes ordered for Scott Field. Soon the
actual training of airplane pilots began. On August 27, 1917,
Major George E. A. Reinberg, Signal Corps, became the field's
first commanding officer.
Students began arriving daily, and by the end of September
more than one thousand men were stationed there. With their
arrival from all parts of the country, came quarantine, one of
the bugaboos of camp life. Measles developed, which spoiled
the first Christmas vacation, many having hoped to go home,
while others had received invitations from the kindhearted Belle-
villians. Luckily, a few days before the holidays expired, the
ban was lifted, but with two more squadrons arriving from
Texas, the epidemic broke out again, putting the camp once
more under quarantine.
In January, 1918, Colonel J. C. Fechet arrived, replacing
Major Reinberg. Later in that same year Major Henry Abbey,
Jr., assumed command.
After the Armistice, November 18, 1918, a great deal of
concern was felt as to what would happen to this field. Since
it was no longer needed as a training center for the Army's
aviation cadets, the personnel was cut down until only 65
In October, 1919, Major J. H. Houghton replaced Major
Abbey. During the next year there was very little activity at
the post. In 1920, the government decided that the field should
be converted into the nation's headquarters for the training of
airship pilots and ballon observers, thus discontinuing all heavier
than air training. The United States government then, on
March 19, purchased outright the land on which Scott Field
I N WAR 232
was located. The purchase price for the 640 acres was $119,-
285, a little over $170 per acre.
In 1921 the War Department approved a plan for an erection
of a $1,200,000 hangar, which was to be 220 feet wide, 180
feet high and 910 feet long, with landing facilities, 1,500 by
150 feet, fronting the hangar. This field was now converted
into the home of the dirigible, observation balloon, round free
balloons, and the sausage balloon, all of which were regarded
as supremely important at the time.
Construction of this hangar was approved by the Secretary
of War in 1921. Major Frank M. Kennedy, its designer, arrived
now to assume command of the post in October, succeeding
Colonel C. G. Hall. He supervised the entire construction of
the hangar, which was completed that year at a cost of $1,-
360,000. It dominated the countryside for miles around and
was a greater attraction to visitors that were dirigibles themselves.
Its floor had space enough for 100,000 men to stand in military
formation; and ever)' visitor that saw it would speculate on how
much the hangar would hold in corn, wheat, or hay, while
others would compare it with the Washington Monument or
the Empire State Building. The two doors at its entrance
weighed almost 2,000,000 pounds each. It took electrically
driven motors seven and one-half minutes to open them.
With completion of the hangar. Major Kennedy received
orders to proceed to Germany to supervise the construction of
a Zeppelin for the United States government. He was suc-
ceeded by Major John H. Paegelow.
Other building projects in the $5,000,000 lighter than air
base were as follows: 175 foot high mooring mast, an extensive
helium laboratory where the gas was purified after having been
used in the dirigibles, and an engineering department near
On October 3, 1923, the world's largest lighter-than-air craft,
the United States Shenendoah landed at Scott Field. On January
232 IN WAR
28, 1926, the R.S.-l, largest army dirigible in the world, was
completed at the field and given a successful tr)'Out. The peak
of construction was attained when the T C-14 and the T CTl,
non-rigid air ships, were built. The T C-14 was 237 feet long,
57 feet in diameter and had a 365,000 cubic feet gas capacity.
These dirigibles resembled silver cigars floating in the air,
and they soon became familiar figures to everyone.
The blimp was a non-rigid bag having no inner frame work
and was therefore nicknamed "the rubber cow" or "fat sausage."
The operator in the control car, swung by cables beneath the
bag, controlled its direction and speed of travel.
On August 8, 1925, St. Clair County received $35,292 from
the United States government for the construction of the new
hard road to Scott Field. It was the first time in the history of
the state that federal aid had been secured by a county without
any effort on the part of the state.
During the years 1928-29 it seemed that Scott Field was
fast becoming ITncle Sam's step-child. There was even a move-
ment on foot then, that it be abandoned entirely, as need for
it no longer seemed to exist. Civic groups both in Belleville and
the surrounding territory began to realize what this would
mean, and at once formed a National Defense Committee to
fight for its retainment. Congressman John T. Cochran of
Missouri, on the floor of the House of Representatives, fought
for its continuance. In June, 1930, Congress finally authorized
$1,206,500 for additional construction work at the field. Heavier
than air operations were then resumed, and Scott Field soon
became the largest and most completely equipped government
inland airship base and ballon and airship school.
The year 1933 marked the termination of active duty for
Colonel Paegelow, and in August, Lieut. Colonel Frank M.
Kennedy returned to take over command.
In 1935, Congressman Edwin M. Schaefer of Illinois pro-
IN WAR 233
posed a bill to provide $4,338,000 for further improvement of
Scott Field which congress approved.
In February, 1937, Colonel Kennedy was ordered to report
to Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio, and was succeeded by Colonel
Arthur J. Fischer, who had been transferred here from Maxwell
Field, Montgomery, Alabama.
On May 14, 1937, the lighter-than-air crafts were discon-
tinued at the field, for with the exception of perhaps coastal
patrol, their day had passed. It was again rumored that the
field would be abandoned, but on May 14, 1937 the War
Department changed Scott Field from a lighter-than-air to a
heavier-than air field. The baby blimps and dirigibles were
deflated and the Ninth Air Squadron was assigned to another
field. The day of the huge cigar-shaped silver painted dirigibles
was over as far as this area was concerned. A total of forty
carloads of cylinders, each cylinder weighing 130 pounds and
capable of holding two hundred cubic feet of gas was shipped
to Duncan Field, San Antonio, Texas, where they were serviced
and sent to the helium plant at Amarillo, Texas.
In 1938, Scott Field was rebuilt in its entirety. The big
helium plant, the dirigible hangar, the mooring mast, the old
wooden barracks, and administration buildings were torn down.
The mile square field was enlarged and criss-crossed by concrete
runways for landing fields, which completed were 250 feet
wide and about two miles long. The field hangar, which
originally cost $1,360,000, was sold to the wreckers for $20,051.
On June 2, 1938, the War Department designated Scott Field
as the new home of the General Headquarters of the Air Forces
of the entire United States Army. An additional twelve hundred
acres of land was bought adjoining the present field to the east
and the north. Because of its ideal geographic location and
strategic regions of defense, this field now was destined to
become the center of all army air activities.
The tearing down of the old buildings began on July 18,
234 IN WAR
1938, and soon the $7,500,000 improvement program got under
way. New hangars, shops, barracks, officers quarters, general
headquarters building, quarters for the various mechanical
equipment, in all 73 major buildings, were soon under construc-
On June 1, 1939, Scott Field was designated as the Scott
Field branch of the Army Air Corps Technical Schools,
and the basic section of the school, which was located at
Chanute Field, Rantoul, Illinois, was transferred to Scott. This
involved the movement of all civilian instructors, 29 enlisted
instructors, and five officers to Scott Field. In August, 1941
an allotment of $1,710,150 was made for the construction of
160 new buildings at the field. This was in line with the plan
that Scott Field was to house eight thousand men.
New buildings on the post were constructed with funds from
the Public Works Administration. An average of two thousand
men worked at the field constantly in connection with this
project, the outstanding feature of which was the new mess
hall that was to serve six thousand men. This building is the
shape of a capital "H" with the kitchen in the cross bar. There
are four dining halls providing eight lines for cafeteria style
serving. The center of the building is used for storage and
To house the more than forty-five hundred students with the
Radio Communications School, a new cantonment area was
constructed on the souteast section of the post. The students
began moving into this miniature city in December, 1940, and
it has since been called the Student Center. Colonel Walcott
P. Hayes, the commanding officer was succeeded on July
2, 1940, by Colonel Fischer. He in turn was succeeded by
Colonel J. P. Temple on February 11, 1944, and he, on March
15, 1944, by Brig. General Shepler W. Fitzgerald.
The last vestige of the lighter-than-air era at Scott Field
disappeared on October 30, 1941, with the shipment of seven
IN WAR 235
carloads of helium containers.
The Air Corps Institute at Scott Field established under the
direction of Co. Frank H. Pritchard in December, 1940, has
the only correspondence school of its kind in the United States.
With applications for the 33 available subjects coming in from
fifty army posts all over the nation, as well as from distant
possessions, the enrollment has far exceeded ten thousand.
Scott Air Force Base is today a complete city in itself, con-
taining all the necessities of life and the comforts of modern
living. It has been enlarged three times its original size. It
contains restaurants, motion picture theaters, recreation grounds,
libraries, service clubs, gymnasiums, community halls, swim-
ming pools, and a day room where the men may play table
games, listen to the radio, read, or play the piano.
The field is also equipped with a prison, an efficient police
force, a new hospital, a modern and completely equipped fire
station, a postal system, a bank, and an extensive sewerage dis-
posal system emptying into a three-mile ditch to Silver Creek.
Approximately twenty-five thousand air corps radio techni-
cians were being trained every year by the Army Corps Radio
Operators and Technician School. Students entered at the rate
of eight hundred every two weeks and received a 22 week
radio course in operation and line maintenance of air craft
radio equipment, and in the installation, operation and field
maintenance of tactical ground radio equipment. Scott Field
had a personnel of around twenty-five thousand including of-
ficers, permanent men, and students. From it were directed
all operations of the United States Army Air Corps. It will
always be the focal point for the wings of the United States
OUR PART IN THE WARS
Whenever this country has gone to war, men of Belleville
have not been reluctant to take up arms and do their part to
236 IN WAR
preserve the ideals and the rights of free men as guaranteed
by the government.
George Rogers Clark was the first to open this area to the
American pioneer. Some of his courageous little band later
settled here, the most noted of these being the Reverend Hosea
Rigg of Pennsylvania, who enlisted when only 19. He fought
in the batde of White Plains, Germantown and Brandywine,
setding in this area a litde later and spending the next forty
years of his hfe here. He died at his home two miles east of
Belleville in 1841.
In 1809, when British agents were stirring up the Indians
in the West, it was the Rangers, their patrols, and blockhouses
that quelled the raids and forced the Red Man to make peace.
A line of blockhouse forts sixty miles long was built from the
Missouri to the Kaskaskia Rivers. This line was pratolled by
22 forts, one of them was near Lebanon, another south of New
Athens, and another in Mascoutah township. Four companies
of Rangers kept this line intact and warded off all Indian
In the War of 1812, many of these Rangers joined the Army,
which later defeated the British at New Orleans. Of them the
most famous were William Whiteside, James B. Moore, Jacob
Short, and Samuel Whiteside. Governor John Reynolds, then
a young man, saw service at this time.
During the Black Hawk War of 1831 to 1832, named after
Chief Black Hawk living in the Rock River County of Illinois,
Governor Reynolds issued the call for volunteers to force these
Indians out of the state. Many men responded, and some of them
fought with the future president, Abraham Lincoln, who was
chosen captain of his company. Among local men who volun-
teered were Adam W. Snyder and John Thomas, the latter
rising to the rank of colonel in this campaign. The result of
this war was that the Indians were forced out.
IN WAR 237
When the call for volunteers came in the Mexican War,
(1846-48), local citizens were eager and ready to fight, and
several companies of volunteers were formed. The first one
known as the Second lUinois Regiment, was organized in May,
1846, by William H. Bissell then a young local attorney. Bissell
later became colonel of this regiment, winning much acclaim
for his service. It was his good work that helped attain the
governor's seat for him. His company did more fighting than
any other, suffering a loss of sixty-five killed, eighty wounded,
and ten missing.
When Bissell's regiment returned at the end of the war,
it was given a reception of welcome, at which Bissell praised
the officers and men of the Second Illinois Regiment, saying
they had fought bravely and well. Bissell dwelt at length on
their high sense of personal honor and the high moral sense
instilled in them by their fathers and mothers, to whom he
accredited all honor.
Another company of volunteers was organized by Nathaniel
Niles, vv'ho later edited the Daily Advocate. He was also captain
of a company of Texas Infantry which fought in the battle of
Monterey and Buena Vista.
When Lincoln issued his call for volunteers in April, 1861,
many answered the call and enlisted. A training camp, named
Camp Koerner, was established at the old Fair Grounds where
a local company of volunteers was prepared for war. Many of
these young men rose from private to colonel and some were
with Sherman in his march to the sea. Others fought in the
Batde of Gettysburg. The Ninth Illinois Infantry, in which
Belleville was well represented, took part in 1 10 battles.
Of particular note is the fact that Germans, only a few years
removed from their native land, fought gallantly for the land
of their adoption. Most noted of these were Colonel Friederich
Hecker, and Gustavus Koerner.
On May 8, 1861, Ulysses S. Grant, then only a captain,
238 IN WAR
paid a visit to Belleville. He was on an inspection tour and
talked to those in charge of the camp, including Captain Koer-
ner, Henry Goedeking, and Henry Kircher. When he arrived,
Hecker's boys were drilling and made a good showing. Grant
met the officers in charge and later had a soldier dinner with
In the War with Spain, April 19, 1898, to December 12,
1898, Belleville's chief contribution was its Company D of
the Fourth Regiment of Illinois Infantry, which was sent to
Belleville is justly proud of its contributions to the Navy.
Captain Joseph B. Coghlan, who commanded the warship
Raleigh in the Batde of Manila, spent his boyhood here. Lt.
Commander William Braunersreuther, who lead the party of
Marines which took possession of the island of Guam, was
also a Belleville resident. He too took part in the Batde of
Manila Bay. Among the Navy's admirals in the Spanish-Amer-
ican War were Hugo Osterhaus and Kossuth Niles. Major
General Wesley Merritt, the son of an editor of the Daily
Advocate, led an American force which stormed the city of
Manila after Dewey had destroyed the fleet and silenced the
forts. He served as the first military governor of the Phillippine
Islands. Admiral Louis Kempff, commander of the warship
Monterey, became governor general of the Island of Guam in
recognition of his services.
On June 28, 1914, World War I broke in Europe. When
the United States entered it on April 6, 1917, Belleville boys
again played a heroic part in this great conflict as they served
on all of its far-flung battle fronts. On June 16, 1917, more
than fourteen thousand men from St. Clair County registered
for the selective draft. The boys, from 21 to 31, who registered
from here numbered 2,024 which was nearly ten per cent of
the 1910 population. Forty-two names are on the first World
War's honor roll of war dead. Heading this list is Major General
IN WAR 239
George E. Hilgard after whom the American Legion Post was
The mihtary and naval heroes from this city have been many.
To single out any one as being greatest, would be an injustice
to the rest. Every war leaves not only its dead, but also the
organizations that spring up to perpetuate its memory. There
are still such organizations as the Daughters of the Amer-
ican Revolution, Spanish American War Veterans, American
Legion, and Veterans of Foreign Wars, the latter an offshot
of the preceding one. Any World War veteran may belong
to it. The local chapter was organized on January 14, 1934,
by August Franke, John Pollock and Frank Yerk with 65
charter members. Its membership today has increased to three
hunderd, and its past commanders have been August Franke,
Philip Wagner, Dr. William Kneedler, Charles Ehinger, Arthur
Nowotny, Frank Yerk, and Harry Morton.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars sponsor a colorful drum and
bugle corps, which was organized by Dr. Kneedler while he was
commander of the organization in 1936. It won first place
during 1938 and 1939 at the department encampment of
Veteran of Foreign Wars.
In 1940, when World War II was looming on the horizon,
one city and two county draft boards were created to arrange
for the induction of draftees into the army. They classified all
registrants and took care of the administrative duties pertaining
to their respective areas. The members of Belleville's draft board
were Dr. G. C. Otrich, chairman; Wilbur E. Krebs, secretary;
and Robert L. Kern, Albert B. Baldus, and Joseph B. Herman.
Frank C. Wuller was the chief clerk; Mildred E. Moehrl, as-
sistant clerk; and Jeanett L. Schiermeier, typist.
The Burke-Wadsworth Selective Service Act required all
men and boys between the ages of 21 and 35 to register for
army service on October 16, 1940. Thirteen per cent of the
city's population, or a total of 3353, registered. Again on July
240 IN WAR
1, 1941, boys who had attained the age of 21 since October
16, 1940, were also required to register for army service. The
draftees had to report to the local board headquarters from where
they were sent to the induction center, which at first was East
St. Louis, then Peoria, and later Chicago.
On February 16, 1942, men between 20 to 45 registered,
while on April 27, 1942 those from 21 to 65 were required
to do so. If called, those from 44 to 65 were not to be used
for the army, but to fill gaps in the skilled labor field. When
the war ended on September 2, 1945, 107 of Belleville's boys
had been killed in the service of their country.
On July 11, 1942, Rogers D. Jones, president of the Town-
ship High Board of Education, and Republican nominee for
the board of review, entered the United States Navy as a
lieutenant. He was elected president of Township High School
Board in 1941 and re-elected in 1942, having served, at the time
of his resignation, about one and one-half terms. He was con-
sidered the youngest president of a board in the state of Illinois
since he was 31 at the time of his election.
In time of war, service organizations always attempt to make
the life of the soldier as pleasant as possible. Early in World
War II, so as not to have many small and conflicting groups,
a United Service Organization was established by public sub-
scription, although its building was erected by the War Depart-
ment. Here games, reading rooms, telephones, radios, phono-
graphs, arts and crafts, dancing, and pressing rooms were pro-
vided for the enlisted man.
Belleville asked for a $93,000 two-story brick building, but
instead, the government built a rambling one-story frame struc-
ture, which was furnished with leather chairs, couches, desks,
and tables. Many townspeople contributed their radios, phono-
graphs, books, and magazines. The service club was also supplied
with a library, three billiard tables, and a lunch counter where
IN WAR 241
sandwiches, soup, jelly, pie, cake, candy, and soft drinks are
served. It is located at 710 East Main street.
Another service center was maintained by the Catholics at
500 East Main street, and one by the Lutherans at 409 East
llinois, a prairie state, ranks fourth in the United States in
population, third in wealth, and twenty-third in area. It is a
mineral giant with oil for blood and coal for its backbone.
In 1941, it outranked 42 states in wealth of mineral production.
Its total mineral production in 1940 was $275,000,000, of which
oil amounted to $165,000,000 and coal to $78,000,000 Others
such as clay, shale, flourspar, silica, limestone, and Fuller's
earth made up the balance. It ranks second in the production
of coal, third in the production of oil, and contains more un-
mined coal than any other state. St. Clair County ranks fifth in
coal production, being surpassed only by Franklin, Williamson,
Sangamon, and Macoupin counties.
In the immediate community an unlimited amount of high
grade Mississippi limestone is found just west and southwest
of the city. Bricks have long been made from the clay which
is found beneath the top soil in this area. Building sand is
obtainable in unlimited quantities from the Mississippi River.
One of the less heroic, but no less important feats of LaSalle,
the great French explorer of 1679, was his discovery of Belle-
ville coal. He was the first white man to use it for fuel, one
of the men of his party remarking how black his hands and face
were from the coal he had carried on to the fire during a cold
OUR CONTRIBUTIONS 243
night on their trip on the Mississippi River.
The out-cropping coal along the bluffs is so close to St.,
Louis that its commercial value soon became established. It was
mined first in open trenches and then by tunneling into the
bluff along the seams of coal. It was not yet suspected that this
coal could also be found under the city. These miners sold
their coal in St. Louis and to neighboring Illinois cities. The
blacksmiths of Belleville were the first to use local coal in
their shops and found it so much better that they never again
used wood in their forges.
The first Belleville coal mine was opened by Willam Fowler
in 1825 just south of the city in the bluffs where Richland
Creek meets the highlands. It was then believed that coal could
be found anywhere and all one had to do was to sink a shaft
In 1940 there were a total of sixty mines operating within
a few miles of the city, with a combined output of six million
tons a year. Most of the coal is mined from the No. 6 seam
and is commonly called Belleville Coal. This seam averages
6 feet, nine inches in thickness, and lies at a depth of 150 feet.
The area has an unlimited supply of bituminous coal, and
all of it can readily be converted into coke with a tar yield
of ten gallons a ton. It is the very soul and life of this community
and is destined to keep this city one of the largest cities in South-
ern Illinois. It is estimated that no more than one-fiftieth of this
coal has been tapped despite nearly a century of extensive
In analyzing the No. 6 seam, the following contents were
found: moisture 9:30, volatile material 37.2; fixed carbon,
40:65; ash, 12:85. The sulphur contents is 4.58 and B. T. U.
rating is 12,300.
Belleville coal is being used less today than it was in the
past. Two reasons for this seem to be the introduction of gas
and oil from Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas, and St. Louis
244 OUR CONTRIBUTIONS
Smoke Abatement Ordinance. More coal will again be used
when this coal can be processed to meet the requirements of
the St. Louis ordinance; when both cities become more reci-
procally trade minded, and when some legislation is passed
that would make gas and oil equal in cost in heat units to that
of coal. Until that is done these mines will no doubt continue
to close until only a few remain to furnish local needs. By
1950, the number of mines still operating had decreased to five.
The St. Clair Gazette which made its appearance on De-
cember 25, 1838, was the first successful newspaper to be
published in Belleville. Since then it has changed its name many
times and is today the Belleville Daily Advocate, the oldest
established newspaper in St. Clair County and the first in the
state of Illinois to issue a daily edition. When it was first printed
as a weekly in the building on the corner of Main and High
streets it was considered the leading Democratic paper in South-
ern Illinois. In 1854, when the Free Soil Party was organized,
it switched to an anti-slavery paper, and in 1856, became the
leading Republican newspaper in this district.
Soon after its establishement, T. C. Clark retired from the
printing business and from 1839 to 1841 James L. Boyd carried
on the work alone. Then he sold out to Philip S. Fouke, and
later the paper was taken over by Robert K. Fleming and his
five sons. Edward, one of the sons, managed it until 1849
when he caught the gold fever and left for California leaving
his brother, William in charge. Jehu Baker, considered to be
the ablest editor and the leading statesman in the Middle West,
joined the paper at this time as the editor. He later became
congressman and United States minister to Venezuela.
The Advocate was next under the editorship of James W.
Merritt and Judge Nathanial Niles, who where succeeded by
James S. Coulter. The latter changed its name to Daily Advo-
OUR CONTRIBUTIONS 245
cate. In 1851 Nathaniel Niles became its editor, while the ex-
goldseeker, Edward Fleming, reurned because of his health.
In 1856, Edward Schiller joined Judge Niles, but remained
with him only a year. In 1857, Collins Van Cleve and T. C.
Weeden assumed the editorial chair for three years, until E.
J. Montague became the new proprietor in 1860. In 1861,
Alexander G. Dawes became the assistant editor, and the pro-
perty went back to Van Cleve. Dawes remained but a year
and a half when F. M. Hawes took over. In 1863, G. F. Kim-
ball occupied that position, and he remained with the paper for
nine years, until it was bought by J. H. Thomas. Kimball
returned as its editor, succeeded later by John Woods.
The paper in 1898 changed its name to its present one,
namely The Belleville Daily Advocate. It was then joindy owned
by James A. Willoughby and John E. Thomas, who disposed
of it on December 23, 1913 to Fred E. Evans, Preston K.
Johnson, and Edward Julleis. Johnson and Julleis soon with-
drew leaving Evans in charge until his death in 1930. It is
today owned by the Belleville Advocate Printing Company
headed by Cyril Arnold its president; Miss Anna L. Stolle,
secretary-treasurer and general manager; Leslie Crow, news
editor; Cyril Arnold, business manager; and Al. R. Schmidt,
city editor. Its plant is located at South High and East Wash-
ington streets, where it moved in 1924. It is a thoroughly modern
and up-to-date newspaper plant.
The first issue of the Belleville Daily News Democrat ap-
peared on January 16, 1858, but prior to then, in 1857, its
prospectus had been presented to the community.
Its founder, Rev. Boyakin, was born in Corinth, Mississippi,
in 1807 and came to Belleville in 1840. During the Civil War
he served as a chaplain, and was known as "the fighting parson."
His father had saved Andrew Jackson's life during a skirmish
with the Indians at Horse Shoe Bend, and out of gratitude for
this heroic deed, General Jackson defrayed the expenses of
246 OUR CONTRIBUTIONS
sending the son, William F. Boyakin, through college, where
he prepared for the ministry.
He was an aggressive person and with the financial help of
the wealthy J. S. D. (Don) Morrison, the Weekly Democrat
was launched. Morrison donated the original press, which was
of the Washington Hand type brought from Philadelphia.
In 1859, Bovakin, feeling the urge to "go West," sold the
paper to E. R. Stuart and W. H. Shoupe. These two gendemen
held it until 1860 when it was acquired by G. A. Harvey, who
conducted it with no small amount of success until August,
1863, when it was purchased by William Denlinger and Alex-
ander B. Russell, both practical printers from Pittsburgh, Penn-
sylvania. Besides being a printer, Russell was a good newspaper-
man and served as the editor, soon becoming quite a prominent
figure in the community. The price of the weekly was at this
time raised from $1.50 per year to $2.00. In 1863, the plant
moved from its North High street address to the building then
known as the Kaysing Building, where it occupied the third
In the summer of 1880, Russell's health failed, and Judge
William J. Underwood, then one of the leaders of the De-
mocrats in the community, succeeded him as editor. It
was his ambition to convert the Weekly Democrat into a daily
paper, but failing in being able to do so, he resigned after
serving as editor for slightlv more than a year. Instead he
organized the Daily News earlv in the spring of 1882. Articles
of incorporation were filed in the offices of the secretary' of
state for the Daily News Publishing Co., with William J.
Underwood, Curt Heinfelden, R. A. Halbert, F. F. Metschan,
and Robert Rogers as incorporators. The capital stock was $5,-
000. Judge Underwood was managing editor of the publication
that commenced about the first of April.
That Belleville really needed an English daily was evident
by the success of the new publication in the community. In
OUR CONTRIBUTIONS 247
fact, it was not long before the Weekly Democrat began making
overtures of wanting to come along. An amicable agreement
was soon reached, and in 1883 the Daily News and The Week-
ly Democrat were consolidated under the name of the Belle-
ville Daily News-Democrat, the caption which the paper has
since borne. It was the only English daily in the city.
Having controlling stock. Judge Underwood not only be-
came its president but contributed the editorials of the day.
William G. Russell served as its business manager, while Ben
Boneau was city editor. The paper now became definitely
Democratic. Besides the daily paper, a weekly edition was also
put out, and this enjoyed a large rural circulation. Judge Under-
wood, who was the first president of the Southern Illinois
Press Association, had established quite a reputation as an
At the time of the merger the paper was published in the
building direcdy back of the First National Bank on North
Illinois street, then known as the Abend Building. Today that
is the site of the Christmann Building. The business office,
the editorial and the composing rooms occupied the second floor,
while the job room was on the third. About twelve men were
regularly employed by the company.
The paper continued under the management of Judge Un-
derwood until December 15, 1891. When his health began
to decline, he sold the paper to Fred J. Kern and F. W. Kraft
of the East St. Louis Gazette. Mr. Kern had charge of the
editorial and news departments, while Mr. Kraft became the
business manager. This partnership continued until January
1895, when Mr. Kern purchased the interests of Mr. Kraft
and became the sole owner of the paper.
In 1898 a disastrous fire inflicted much damage to the plant
of the News-Democrat. The damages ran to approximately
$18,000. Valuable files of the old copies were also destroyed.
Moving from the Abend Building, the paper was then located
248 OUR CONTRIBUTIONS
in the northwest comer of the Pubhc Square. Mr. Kern then
bought the corner property at South Ilhnois and East Lincoln
streets, where the modern plant is located. Today Robert L.
and Richard P. Kern, his sons, are its publishers.
In the past, Belleville supported more newspapers than it
does today. In the decade beginning with 1880, it had, besides
its two dailies, four weeklies and one Sunday paper. The
Zeitung Und Stern, a German publication, issued both a daily
and a weekly paper. This was the leading German paper in
the state, outside of Chicago, and it was supposed to have had
the largest circulation. It was published by the firm of Sem-
melroth, Heinfelden, and Metschan. The Belleville Post was
established as the organ of the German Republicans in 1884.
Later the Zeitung and the Post merged under the name of
the Post and Zeitung, and for years it was an outstanding Ger-
man daily. Sometime later, the Morning Record, a new daily
morning paper made its appearance. It was Belleville's only
The Intelligencer Blatt was a monthly paper published by
William Homeier as an advertising medium for his real estate
business and to gratify his taste for the literary.
The Belleville Tageblatt Und Arbeiter Zeitung, published
by Hanz Schwarz, Sr., was a German weekly relished by many
for its spicy articles often directed at some public official.
There was also the Treu Bund, and a Sunday paper published
and edited by Fred W. Kraft.
When Belleville's first city council was elected in 1850, it
was agreed that its meetings would be held on the first Monday
of each month in the city hall, which then stood east of the
Market House, on the present site of a parking lot and filling
Some early city officers met certain specified needs, but
OUR CONTRIBUTIONS 249
today their offices no longer exist. There was a time when
a coil oil inspector was very essential because all illumination
was done with kerosene. Its use constituted a fire hazard, and
to reduce this it could not be sold in the city unless it had
been passed upon by such an inspector who used the ignition
test. Only oil that ignited or exploded at a temperature of less
than 150 degrees was considered unsafe. He also made sure
that the traditional coal oil can, with a potato stuck in the
spout as a cork, would not blow up easily.
The salaries of the city officials were much lower than they
are today. The city was naturally smaller, and prices in general
were much lower. The mayor's salary in 1844 was fixed at
$200 a year, and the aldermen each received $35 for their serv-
ices. The city clerk's salary was set at $150, and the city
treasurer received $75 a year. The city marshall was granted
$100 a year, plus a cut of all the fines and fees. The all im-
portant master of the city market received a salary of $50 a year.
We may laugh at some of the city offices of the early days,
but they, too, would find much reason to laugh at some of
our ways in these modern days. For instance, a dog catcher
was added to the city's payroll as late as May 21, 1913. In that
year too, a city ordinace was passed making it unlawful for any
fowls to run at large vdthin the city limits.
In Belleville's one-hundred years of existence it has had
41 mayors. One of them, Louis Barthel, died in office, in 1889.
Fred J. Kern held office longer than any other, serving five
terms, from 1903 to 1913. Peter Wilding was elected five
times in 1859, 1860, 1871, 1875, and 1879, resigning in 1860.
Herman G. Weber also was elected five times, in 1873, 1874,
1883, 1885, and 1891. He resigned in 1885 and in 1891. Upon
receiving the appointment as United States marshal in 1885,
he handed in his resignation as mayor on July 6, contributing
his two months salary to help defray the expenses of a special
election which was held on July 28, 1885. In this election
Michael Reis was elected mayor, as he was again in the election
of 1887. Following is a list of mayors and the years they were
Theo. J. Kraft 1883
Ed. Abend 1885
John W. Pulliam 1889
Joseph B. Underwood 1889
William C. Davis 1890
J. W. Hughes 1891
Edward Abend 1893
Peter Wilding 1893
F. H. Pieper 1895
Henrv' Goedeking 1897
Charles Palme 1899
Herman Burkhardt 1901
Edward Abend 1903
Joseph Kirkpatrick 1913
Frederick Ropiquet 1919
Henry Abend 1921
Peter' Wilding 1929
Herman G. Weber 1931
Peter Wilding 1935
Henry Kircher 1941
Peter Wilding 1945
B. J. West, Jr., 1949
Herman G. Weber
Herman G. Weber
Fred C. Knoebel
Edward F. Winkler
Henry T. Fredericks
John B. Hay
Fred J. Kern
R. E. Duvall
P. K. Johnson
Joseph J. Anton
George A. Brechnitz
Roland W. Jung
Ernst W. Tiemann, Sr.,
Harold V. Calhoun
The city officials in 1951 were as follows:
Harold V. Calhoun, mayor; Carl Siegel, city clerk; John
Courar, city treasurer; Casper Arndt and Philip Huling, custo-
dians city hall; Mrs. Jack Gundlach, secretary to mayor.
Members of the city council are as follows:
George Glakemeier, Calvin Isselhardt, Carl Lenz, John (Red)
McDonald, Charles Nichols, Ben Sauer, John Schloemann,
Edward Schmitding, Henry Schwarz, Irvin Stein, Ava Teel,
Ernest Tiemann, Roy Torloting, and George Uhl.
OUR CONTRIBUTIONS 251
St. Clair County, throughout its history, has at various times
entertained distinguished guests. It was in April, 1769, that
Pontiac, famous Indian chief, visited Cahokia and was murdered
on the streets of that village.
During his American tour in 1824, Lafayette, at the invitation
of Governor Coles, spent one busy day in Kaskaskia, where
he was the guest of honor at a reception in the home of
Colonel Edgar and at a banquet at Colonel Sweet's tavern.
In the evening, he attended a gay ball in the imposing residence
of William Morrison, departing at midnight, by steam boat,
for Nashville, Tennessee.
In October, 1876, Robert G. Ingersoll, a guest of the local
Republican Club, addressed the largest Belleville audience
that had ever been assembled up to that time, in the City Park
Wilham Cody, better known as Buffalo Bill, was in the city
on several occasions. At various times Belleville audiences have
listened attentively to the campaign speeches of such renowned
Americans as Abraham Lincoln, Richard M. Johnson, William
Jennings Br)'an, William H. Taft, Thomas R. Marshall,
General Leonard W. Wood, Wendell Willkie, and Henry A.
Wallace, all who expounded the issues of the day.
The presidential election of 1840 was memorable for having
been the most extravagant of all previous campaigns. At that
time the Whigs were well organized. The backwoods Hfe of
their candidate, William H. Harrison and his victory in the
battle of Tippecanoe were typified in parades that stressed
log cabins, canoes, hard cider, coon-skin caps, brass bands, and
fifes and drums. Such a demonstration was staged in Belleville
on April 11, 1840. After the parade a political meeting, attended
by about three hundred people, was held at which most of the
speakers were from St. Louis. The first of them denounced
as traitors all who would not support their candidate. The second
252 OUR CONTRIBUTIONS
speaker to mount the rostrum was Abraham Lincoln. The
Belleville Advocate commenting on the meeting, while giving
two columns to it, was not very complimentary. Its introductory
remarks were as follows:
"As we anticipated, a more perfect farce has rarely been
exhibited in this or any county, than the Whig celebration on
Saturday last . . .
"We expected from the array of orators, that the people
would have been informed something of the principles, of the
measures that were to be carried out by General Harrison if
elected; in this all were, like ourselves, disappointed . . .
"Mr. Lincoln followed next, a federal candidate for elector.
His speech was weak, and feeble. 'How different,'
remarked many of the Whigs, 'to what we expected.' Poor
Lincoln! he should have rested his fame upon his printed speech,
going the rounds in the federal papers, as purported to have
been delivered by him at Springfield. He predicated his whole
speech upon the sale of a one-eyed horse for twenty-seven
dollars, that happened to be sold by a constable during the
day. To what slight accidents are we frequently indebted for
our great things! How very fortunate for the Whigs, that Mr.
Lincoln saw the sale of the one-eyed horse that day! He was
then enabled to prove that Mr. Van Buren caused it, together
with all the other ills of life that us poor mortals 'are heir to'."
Late in the summer of 1839, Belleville was honored by a
visit from the vice-president of the United States, the Honorable
Richard M. Johnson, whom tradition credits with having shot
Tecumseh, and was the only vice-president to be elected by
the United States senate. He was making a tour of the states,
feeling out the Democratic convention in 1840. He was a guest
at the Neuhoff House, then a newly erected, large hotel. Here
he held a meeting in the morning, which was attended by men
in great numbers, regardless of party affiliation. In the evening
a brilliant ball was held, which was attended by the elite of
OUR CONTRIBUTIONS 253
the town and the surrounding country.
Although Belleville has never been entirely flattered by its
mention in the "American Notes" by Charles Dickens, it does
feel a bit of pride in having had him as a guest as he and his
party passed through here in April, 1842 on their way to the
Looking Glass Prairie, near Lebanon. His stay here lasted but
an hour or two while he took dinner. Court was in session at
the time of his arrival, and "the path, nearly knee deep in mud
and slime, which led to the forest," that he sacarstically refers
to, was the Public Square. Of course there was no paving and
there may have been some mud and trees, and the buildings
surrounding the Square were early pioneer buildings of the time.
Instead of the present court house, the old, square, brick one
stood a little northeast of it, to which members of the bar hitched
their horses, but they were not temporary "hitching racks" as
Dickens described them.
"The old, shambling low-roofed outhouse, half cowshed and
half kitchen" in which he says he was entertained, was the
Mansion House, the best and largest brick house in the town,
with the exception of the court house and the mill. It was
anything but what he described it, actually being roomy and
well furnished, and having been recently erected at great cost
by the Reverend Thomas Harrison, whose daughter and hus-
band, Mr. and Mrs. Wm. J. McBride, were its proprietors.
The local paper, reviewing his visit, refuted his story that
Belleville was a "land of mud and brush," of "frogs and pigs."
It even inferred he was "decidely drunk" when he stated that
the sun set on the opposite side of Looking Glass Prairie which,
according to his story, would have been in the northeast.
Abraham Lincoln paid his second visit to Belleville in the
campaign of 1856, when he came at the invitation of William
Bissell, who was then running for the governorship of the state.
He was a guest in the home of John Scheel on South Illinois
254 OUR CONTRIBUTIONS
Street, where the Junior High School now stands. He met all
of the leading local Republicans and in the evening spoke from
a platform erected on the eastern end of the Market Square,
on the site of a filling station today.
There was no heckling or disappointment by the audience
at this rally, for Lincoln displayed the greatest ability, and
it was admitted that his was the speech of the day. He cap-
tivated the Germans uith his "God bless the Dutch," as he
lauded them for their definite stand against slaver\% saying that
thev were more enthusiastic for the cause of freedom than any
of the other nationalities.
Although none of the Lincoln-Douglas debates were held
in Belleville, Douglas was a guest here in 1858. He made a
pompous entrv accompanied by his beautiful wife, who had
been the belle of Washington society. The town was crowded
for the oration, for more than five hundred people came
from St. Louis to see and to hear him, but the local people,
on the whole, showed little enthusiasm.
In the late '60's Mark Twain visited Belleville. He was
writing a histor\^ of J. A. Slade, the Robin Hood of the
Rocky Mountains, whose brother, James P. Slade, was a teacher
in the Belleville schools and was able to supply the information
sought by Mark Twain.
On March 13, 1900, Eugene V. Debs, the Socialist nominee
for president, delivered a speech here on libert)\
NOTED PLACES AND EVENTS
The Dr. A. W. Wagner residence at 313 South High street
has been at one time or another the home of Lvman Trumbull,
Uniter States senator from Illinois, and Theodore Krafft, first
mayor of Belleville.
The site of Hotel Belleville marks the location of one of
Belleville's first log houses which was constructed bv a Mr.
Kerr in 1855. Later a Mr. Knoebel erected a fine brick hotel
OUR CONTRIBUTIONS 255
there, which in 1844 was razed to make way for the original
Belleville House, which remained in use until 1930 when
the present hotel was built.
The Thomas House stood at the northwest corner of High
and Main streets where it was built in 1854, when Belleville
had a population of eight thousand, at a cost of $20,000. Its
proprietor specialized in vacation trade. It was a rather pre-
tentious building, having rooms that were larger than those
usually found in hotels, thereby affording better accommoda-
tions for those who spent their summer away from St. Louis.
Other early rooming and boarding places were the California
House, located on the west side of Charles street and South
Lincoln; the City Hotel on the southwest comer of West Main
and South Third streets; the Farmer's Home on the north side
of Main between Church and Charles streets; the Franklin
House on the south side of Main near Charles street; the Illinois
House on the south side of Main between High and Jackson
streets; and the Prudo Hotel located on the southeast corner
of Illinois and Washington streets. Besides these there was the
Railroad House; the Hinckley House, which is now the
present Lincoln Hotel; the Green Tree Hotel; the Hanover
House and the Napoleon House. Although classified as hotels,
none of these, with the exception of the Belleville House,
the Thomas House, and the Hinckley House, were actually
that, but rather rooming and boarding houses. With few ex-
ceptions they had their wagon-yards where farmers would tie
up their horses and teams while in town. Hotel Belleville today
is Belleville's leading hotel, with a total of 125 rooms. The
Lincoln Hotel has 28.
It is undeniably true that no city in Illinois has a more
bewildering combination of the old and the new in architecture
than ours. Up-to-date bungalows and dwellings over a
hundred years old can be found side by side. The use of brick
in the construction of the early homes was due to the fact that
256 OUR CONTRIBUTIONS
the city abounded in brick manufacturing plants, instead of
saw mills, making it, not only the best, but the cheapest construc-
tion material available.
On January 17, 1844, a movement was started to buy some
land for a county home for the poor. Forty acres northwest
of Belleville were bought from Henry L. Million for $450.
The first building erected here was constructed by George
Eckert and Simon Eimer at a cost of $850, and was opened
as a poor house on December 5, 1844. John Wright and his
wife, its first superintendent and matron, received a salary of
$150 a year.
The City Park and Theater, after its contruction in 1859,
was for many years one of the city's leading places of amuse-
ment. It was located at the northwest corner of West A and
North Second streets, and at one time was the site of the
Heberer Brewery. The City Park Garden, patterned after the
European beer gardens, was for many years the gathering place
of Belleville's old German families. It was a place of dignity
and refinement, and had much of the flavor of "Old Vienna,"
expressing so typically all that is meant in that German word
"Gemuetlichkeit." The theater was the scene of many gay
balls where the youth of that day whirled in the waltzes and
polkas— the selfsame folks who, today, are the grandparents
of our modern jitterbugs.
In 1884 the theater was remodeled, having then a seating
capacity of one thousand. Later it became known as the Opera
House. Shordy after 1900 it was destroyed by fire and had
to be abandoned. Later it was replaced by a light wooden
structure and called the Garden Theater. Anheuser-Busch
Company of St. Louis had bought it in 1895, and at that time
it catered to stock companies. After a few successful seasons this
too, finally failed and the place became the Budweiser Garden
and was used only as a public dancing place.
On the east half of this block stood the magnificient home
OUR CONTRIBUTIONS 257
of the distinguished citizen and stateman, Adam W. Snyder.
It was built in the 1830's and remained the homestead of
three generations of his descendants, when it was purchased
by Dr. Edward M. Irwin, who later became Republican con-
gressman from this district. He, in turn, sold it to the federal
government, which erected in its stead the present Post Office
In 1910 George P. Stolberg established Belleville's first sum-
mer resort. He had bought the deep valley just west of his
home, built a dam across the lower part of it and had, as a
result, a fifteen acre lake that was as much as 6 feet deep in
In June 1902, Christian L. Ebsen, who was at that time the
physical culture instructor for the Turner Society, purchased
the lake known as Knispel's Lake in the Star Brewery Park.
It was one of the most popular resorts for swimming and outings
for many years. Later he disposed of it to the Turner Society,
which made extensive improvements in making the pool a
modern one and in improving the grounds for picnic purposes.
In February, 1944, it was sold to Mr. E. J. Somers of the
Somers Manufacturing Company.
Westhaven Swimming Pool was built by Arthur Buesch.
It is located on South Illinois street, just outside of Belleville
and next to Westhaven golf course.
St. Clair County's first county fair was inaugurated on
October 18 and 19, 1854, and from then on it was held yearly
until the early part of the 1920's. A modern version of it was
revived in 1939, and it has been an annual event since. It was
originally organized by the farmers and merchants, who called
themselves the St. Clair County Agricultural Society. The first
fair was held on the Mascoutah Plank road, south of the stone
bridge three-fourths mile south of the Court House. Later a
tract of land was bought south of Belleville in the Richland
Creek Bottom, east of the present South Illinois street. This
258 OUR CONTRIBUTIONS
was given the name of the Belleville Fairgrounds. It was
splendidly equipped with all the necessary exhibit buildings,
an amphitheatre and a fine race track. Well-kept flower beds
were laid out. This attractive spot was also the early place for the
annual school picnic, an event which was unsurpassed by any
other in Belleville.
Fair days to the early citizens were gala ones. For many
weeks farmers and their wives prepared and planned on entries
that would certainly bring them glory. The Fair was among
the best in the state and ten to twenty thousand people attended
every year. It was a meeting place for friends and relatives who
rarely saw each other more than once a year.
The Fair proved so successful that it became necessary to
run it an entire week. Thursday was the big day, and as many
as seven thousand tickets were sold. People came as far as forty
miles by train and horse-drawn vehicles. When the roads were
"good" the dust was six inches deep, and when it rained the
mud was twice as deep. One of the outstanding events held
on Thursday was "The Ladies Driving and Riding Contest."
In those days women would not ride astride as they do now,
but used a sidesaddle with but one stirrup. Their riding habit
consisted of short jacket, a long draped skirt, and a light hat,
giving them a picturesque appearance.
An annual event of recent years is the Homecoming, sponsor-
ed each fall by the Junior Chamber of Commerce. At times it
has been held at the Athletic Field, located at South Illinois
street and Cleveland avenue. For the last few years it was held
on the parking lot between North Illinois and High streets.
One of the most successful of these was supervised by Waldo
Tisch, who was the general manager of the committee in 1940.
In pioneer days people took their politics seriously, and
Belleville was no exception, for its citizens entered into all of
the campaigns with great enthusiasm. Many spectacular parades
were held. Streets were decorated with flags, and business places
OUR CONTRIBUTIONS 259
were illuminated, adding color to the occasion. The Republicans
and Democrats vied with one another in their ambition to put
on the biggest show.
One such noted event was the huge demonstration staged
by the Republican party on Saturday evening, October 18,
1856. The number taking part in that torch light parade in-
cluding those at the speakers stand, was estimated at six thous-
and. Lebanon was represented with three hundred, Mascoutah
with three hundred, among other cities that sent their delega-
tions, each carrying a banner emblazoned with different slogans.
One of them read, "We earn the bread we eat, and we eat
the bread we earn." There were eight hundred torches carried
in the parade, thirty ornamental lanterns on poles; several bands
furnished the music and many banners were waved. Seated on
the platform with Abraham Lincoln were Lyman Trumbull,
William H. Bissell, candidate for governor, and Gustave Koer-
ner, speakers on the occasion.
On May 23, 1879 a Women's Christian Temperance Union
was organized here by Francis Willard, its national leader.
Twenty members attended the first meeting, and all signed
the charter. It was disbanded in 1881, reorganized on March
16, 1882, and still retains a small membership here.
Whereas fatal accidents today receive only passing interest,
such was not the case in that of Belleville's first traffic tragedy
on June 5, 1911. It occurred when Carl Forst was instantly
killed and S. F. McKenney, a sixty-year-old contractor, was
seriously injured. McKenney 's car was travelling west on Main
street near the Belt Railroad when the machine was struck by
a fast westbound suburban street car.
On March 10, 1914, the hundredth anniversary of the selec-
tion of Belleville as the county seat was duly celebrated. The
program began at 2:00 o'clock in the afternoon with an in-
vocation by the Right Rev. Henry Althoff, after which Gover-
nor Edward F. Dunne delivered an address, calling attention
260 OUR CONTRIBUTIONS
to the great men who had Hved in this county. Following this,
a celebration was held at the Elks Club, at which a bronze
tablet which had been placed in the northeast corner of the
building marking the spot where the first building in Belleville
had been erected, was unveiled.
Belleville's population growth has been a uniform one. Ac-
cording to United States census statistics it has been as follows:
1850, 2,941; 1860, 7,239; 1870, 8,146; 1880, 10,683; 1890,
13,361; 1900, 17,484; 1910, 21,132; 1920, 24,835; 1930, 28,-
425; 1940, 28,405; and 1950, 32,700.
Of its present population, 93^2 per cent of its people are
of native white birth, 6 percent are foreign born and one-half
of one per cent are negro. It has 7,630 families, living in 6,833
dwellings, of which 4,576 or 67 per cent are privately owned. Its
population is a cross section of many nationalities, but those
of German descent gready outnumber all others.
Democratic institutions, besides giving us political and reli-
gious freedom afford every man an equal chance to get along
in the world. They have welded us together in an incredibly
short time, while still allowing the individual his national dif-
ferences in nonessentials. Nothing impresses the foreigner visit-
ing our country more than do our fine schools and universities
and the rapidity with which immigrants emerge from the melt-
ing pot as real Americans.
Belleville now represents the result of 145 years of growth.
It has never been a boom town, but has reached its population
and size through a steady, unaltering advance, which has given
As far as numerical strength of family names is concerned,
the Mueller family leads them all. The 1941 edition of Polk's
City Directory lists 102 persons by that name. Those next in
order were: 100 Millers; 97 Schmidts; 65 Smiths; 59 Johnsons;
37 Browns; 33 Jonesses; and 32 Brauns.
Belleville's altitude is from 420 to 630 feet above sea level.
OUR CONTRIBUTIONS 261
while that of East St. Louis is but 415 feet. The average tem-
perature is 56.3 degrees fahrenheit. The seasonal range is
48.4 degrees, from a Januar)^ mean of 31.9 to a July mean of
89.3 degrees. Thus five months are cool, three are warm and
four are hot.
The growing season extends from April 4 to October 27,
amounting to about 190 days. The mean annual rainfall is
39.7 inches, while the average humidity is 70. The mean annual
sunshine is 62 per cent, although four months have more than
70 per cent. Prevailing winds are from the south. This is an
average, established by the measurements taken by the govern-
ment over a period of 85 years, from 1837-1922.
What Makes a Good City
1 11 community is a group of people living together in a
given locality, and bound together by common interests and
common law. A community as a whole will make an effort to
be a model one, so that it will be attractive to others, and its
citizens will desire to live in no other place.
Ever)' community has features which prove to be an asset
or a liability. If it is located on a river, it has a natural means
of transportation, and thriving trade is likely to develop. Lacking
that, it behooves it to provide some other means of transporta-
tion, such as highways, and railroads, to and from some large
commercial center. This always pays great dividends.
The first step toward making a good city is to study the
causes which have made the best cities as good as they are.
Every citv has its individual peculiarities. No two are identical.
The more familiar one is with different cities, the greater a
variation is revealed. Clothes, care, entertainment, and interests
mav seem similar, but a deeper study of them reveals that these
similarities are only skin deep. Some cities are very negligent
in their provisions for health, comfort, education, recreation,
and other features of good living and well-being. This is partly
due to lack of resources, and partly to the inactivity of its
citizens to realize what a city can and should be. Its inhabitants
fail to compare their city with more progressive ones and
LOOKING AHEAD 263
are unaware of what others have accomphshed.
On the other hand, there are cities which have nearly attained
economic perfection, though many of their residents are ignorant
of their good fortune.
One of the first lessons that citizens should learn is that
it is not only the prevention and the cure of disease, but the
preservation of health that is the goal of modern health agencies.
To preserve health they must learn to cooperate with all the
agencies teaching modern hygiene and sanitation.
Some facts relative to the average American city are summed
up as follows: 60 per cent of all 16 and 17 year old boys and
girls are in school; 23 per cent of the homes use gas; 24 per cent
use electricity; 12 per cent have telephones and radios, and the
infant death rate for one year is below 63 per thousand.
Cities differ greatly in qualities which are vitally important
for human living. The chances that a baby will die within a
year after its birth are greater in some cities than in others.
This is partly due to ignorant and careless parents. It is also
due to standards of living which are high or low according to
the community's management of its health and sanitation prob-
lems. In some cities the infant death rate is five times as great
as in others. In some the deaths, per thousand population from
typhoid, are over twenty times as great as in others.
Standards for health are measured by the general death rate.
The better cities are those in which the people have a better
chance of living. In 1929, the total national bill for medical
care amounted to $3,656,000,000 or about four per cent of the
national income, a per capita expense of $30 for every man,
woman, and child in the country. The government contends
that there should be 142 doctors per 100,000 population, which
should give us forty-five. There should be 179 dentists to
every 100,000 population, which according to Belleville's popu-
lation would amount to fifty-five.
Educational standards are measured by the per capita public
264 LOOKING AHEAD
expenditure for public schools as a whole, for teachers and their
salaries, for text book supplies, for libraries. It is measured
also by the percentage of people 16 to twenty years old attend-
ing school. A city ranks high educationally when its citizens
are given more dollars' worth of educational opportunity and
when its youth can remain in school longer. To rank high in
recreation a city must consider two things: one, the per capita
public expense for recreation; and two, the per capita cost of
acreage. Where human problems, the housing program, wages
and working conditions, educational and health facilities, are
constantly watched and corrected to meet new and progressive
social and economic conditions, a better city will be the result.
Human needs are the first requisite of any well governed city.
Some cities, hoping to improve themselves, have gone into
various forms of business enterprises, operating transit systems,
electric utilities, gas plants, and even housing projects. In 1938,
four-fifths of all cities of more than five thousand population
owned some form of public utility. Seventy-two per cent owned
their own water works; 15.8 per cent owned their own light
plants; 40.7 per cent had sewage disposal plants and 22.5 per
cent owned and operated a city airport.
Contributing factors towards community welfare are reflected
in the lowered rates of mortality from social diseases, homicide,
and automobile accidents. It is reflected also in the value of
a city's property, its schools, libraries, parks and recreational
facilities. It is good to live where there are only a minimum
of violent deaths, where, through wisdom and honesty of good
administration, liberal provisions have been made for educa-
tional, recreational, and health programs, without burdening
taxpayers with a heavy debt.
As a rule, suburban residential cities are considered preferable,
for here homes are located away from the noise and grime of
traffic, factories, or railroads. They usually have comfortable
homes, large enough to provide comfort for every member of
LOOKING AHEAD 265
the family, and they are equipped with modern plumbing,
electric lights, gas or electric stoves, central heating systems and
all the other conveniences of labor-saving devices. When, in
congested districts, homes lack the bare essentials for decent liv-
ing, tenements and slums result. Here ten to fifteen people live
in two or three small, unsanitary, dark, dingy rooms. In some
cities one-fifth, or more, of the total population lives in miserable
hovels totally unfit for human habitation.
The question then arises, "Why do so many Americans live
in poor houses?" The answer is that their income is too low.
A city's general welfare depends just as much on wealth and
income, as it does on personal,moral, and mental qualities.
In determining the mental or moral qualities, the following
must be considered : number of persons per thousand graduating
from public high schools per year, the per cent of taxes devoted
for maintenance of public libraries, the per cent of literacy
in the total population, the per cent of literacy among those be-
tween ages of 15 to 24, the per capita circulation of public
library books, the per capita number of homes owned, the per
capita number of telephones, the number of dentists divided
by the number of lawyers, the excess of the number of physi-
cians, trained nurses, and teachers over the number of male
domestic servants, a low per capita number of deaths from social
diseases, and a low per capita number of deaths from homicides.
Measured by this standard, cities differ vastly. It is indeed
a high-ranking community whose citizens live decently, who
demand the best in education, who read good books, who spend
their personal money to buy a home, who are more concerned
about their children's teeth than they are in engaging in a law
suit. They insist that public money be wisely spent for teachers,
schools, libraries and parks, and they abhor meddling politicians,
jails, and lack of law enforcement.
Some of the present trends which are impairing residential
areas in cities and which constitute so important a part of the
266 LOOKING AHEAD
economic structure are: the withdrawal of the population to
suburban areas, the emergence of large blight districts, the
depreciation of property values, the impairment of tax structures,
and the increased cost for police, fire, and welfare services in
the worst run-down areas.
There is also such a vast difference in living costs in various
localities. This, too, is important to the breadwinner, who quite
naturally chooses to live where his money buys most. In cities
where both wages and salaries are below the average, people
fool themselves into believing that their cost of living is lower,
when in reality this is not the case. The real fact is that their
scale of living is low, and that the citizens live in less com-
fortable homes. They eat cheaper qualities of food, wear cheaper
clothes, enjoy cheaper entertainment, and have inferior schools.
It is not and cannot be, the same life at a lower cost. One gets
what one pays for.
It is essential that a city maintain a good reputation. Too
often it is belitded by would-be writers, who think it is smart
to write derogatory articles, exaggerating its weaker points in-
stead of extolling its many good ones. Too many people know
Pittsburgh, only as the place where "hunkies" make steel, Joliet,
Illinois, too often is associated only with convicts. Chicago
always conjures up gangsters, while Belleville is too often spoken
of deridingly as a litde German village. Let us remember that
the good name of a city is as priceless as is the reputation of an
individual. It is up to the citizens themselves to maintain the
good name of their city by constandy boosting it. Everybody
likes the man who is proud of his community and the one whose
community is proud of him.
To attract outsiders, many cities have adopted city planning.
Often financial difficulties of municipalities may be traced to
their failure to adopt effective measures for the present and
future. City planning holds city expenditures and the direction
of its development and growth within the bounds of econo-
LOOKING AHEAD 267
ical and wise administration. Effective city planning depends
upon an understanding of what planning can and should do
to protect the standards of living. Effective planning will also
stabilize property values. To arouse an interest and to maintain
it, the slogan, "It pays to plan," should be adopted universally.
No growing community can afford to be without a
planning program lest it encourage waste and disorder. A plan-
ning program charts the way to order, convenience, safety, com-
fort, and beauty.
In 1922 there were only 185 cities and towns that practiced
city planning. Today there are more than 1700 and there would
be many more, were it not for the lack of understanding on
the part of the citizens. Present day city planners relegate
residential areas to quiet, clean neighborhoods. They lay out
a city— its streets, parks, recreation centers, businesses, industrial
and residential sections— with the idea of providing the utmost
in health, beauty, and convenience for the entire community.
HOW TO IMPROVE THIS CITY
Recognizing the factors that contribute toward making a
city good or bad, we have yet to mention that which makes a
city better. Today both industry and business use scientific
measurements as an index to their financial condition and well
being. No longer do they merely take a casual look to see how
things are progressing. Instead they have explicit measurements
which indicate clearly and concisely what each department
is accomplishing. Cities can do the same. It is important to
know what is being done for health, education, character,
comfort, security and entertainment.
When a tornado sweeps through a community one imme-
diately reads about it in the newspapers where it is given much
publicity. On the contrary, when an epidemic breaks out, news-
papers scarcely mention it, or if they do, it is put on an obscure
page. When new homes are built one sees them, but if the
268 LOOKING AHEAD
circulation of the public library, or the number of property
owners increases, few citizens are aware of it. The following
ten-item yardstick, which anybody can apply, will tell fairly
accurately how a city measures up in general welfare.
Item 1. Get from the health officer the number of deaths
per year of infants, ranging from 1 to 365 days, per 1,000
live births. Substract this number from 120 and multiply the
result by 2. Cities vary from 20 to 164 points.
Item 2. Get from the city treasurer the year's expenditures
for the operation and maintainance of the department of re-
creation. Divide this amount by the estimated population of
the city and take ten times the quotient expressed in dollars.
Cities vary from 5 to 40 points.
Item 3 Get from the city treasurer the estimated value of
all the city's property in the form of schools, libraries, museums,
parks and other recreational facilities. Divide the amount by
the estimated population of the city, then multiply the result
expressed in dollars by 1.25. Cities vary from 72 to 161 points.
Item 4. Get from the city treasurer the total value of all
public property used for municipal and public services (exclusive
of streets and sewers.) Get also the net public debt. Substract
the latter from the former, then divide by the population. Enter
a credit of one for every $3 per capita excess of property over
debt. In case the city owes more than its public property is
worth, enter the appropriate negative number. Cities vary from
10 to 46 points.
Item 5. Get from the city treasurer or from the superin-
tendent of schools, the expenditures for the operation and main-
tainance of schools. Do not include capital outlays or payment
of interest of school debts. Divide the amount by the population.
Multiply number of dollars in the quotient by two, that is,
*Your City by E. L. Thorndike, 1940, Harcourt Brace and Co.
LOOKING AHEAD 269
enter a credit of one for every 50 cents per capita spent. Cities
vary from 23 to 56 points.
Item 6. Get from the person in charge of the pubhc hbrary
the circulation of books as he would report it to the American
Library Association. Divide this number by the city's population.
Multiply the result by 5. Cities vary from 11 to 84 points.
Item 7. Get from the superintendent of schools the number
of persons who graduated from senior high school during the
year, and divide this number by the city's population. Multiply
the quotient by 14141. Cities vary from 69 to 191 points.
Item 8. Get from the superintendent of schools the number
of pupils in school who were aged 16 years and no months,
to 17 years and 11 months, living in the city at that date and
give a credit of one for each per cent. Cities vary from 52 to
Item 9. Get from the superintendent of the telephone com-
pany the number of subscribers. Multiply the number of phones
by 333 and divide the product by the city's population, that
is, give a credit of one for every three phones per thousand
population. Cities vary from 25 to 90 points.
Item 10. Get from the power company the number of
homes that are supplied with electricity.Multiply by 200 and
divide by the city's population. That is, give credit of two
for each domestic installation of electricity per 100 population.
Cities vary from 30 to 64 points.
Add the results of the 10 entries. The total should be be-
tween 300 to 1000. The average city totals 575.
To improve a city therefore one must begin with the home,
with the neighborhood, and with the individual family. Trees
should be planted along vacant lots which should be cleaned.
Support the neighborhood grocer or he will leave. One must
live within one's income, at the same time providing well for
one's family. Nothing justifies a loafer, dead-beat, or family
deserter. To raise a city's status we must avoid the things that
270 LOOKING AHEAD
tend to lower the standard of living. To raise the standard it
behooves us to remove our slums because they are wasteful
and dangerous, and it is cruel to tolerate them.
Suburbs should co-operate with big cities in providing re-
creational facilities, even though they have private yards, gardens
and country clubs. Better still, they should merge with neigh-
boring communities because their territory is contiguous, there-
by sharing in the public benefits, which now they are denied,
such as sewer and garbage disposal systems, public parks, and
reduced insurance rates with added fire protection.
A good citizen is as loyal to his city as he is to his family,
his church, and his clubs. Even the poorest city protects his
person, his property, and educates his children. Few citizens
give as much as they receive. Too many take the streets, sewer,
water, light, schools, and parks for granted, like so much
sunshine and rain. We belong to our city, and it, in turn,
belongs to us. A city needs to see itself as it really is, so as to
see itself better in the future. Its citizens need to sell it to
others and to do so they must believe it is a good one. Always
point out its good features instead of emphasizing its short-
comings, remembering always that to sell a community to others,
its dwellers must be sold on it themselves.
Schools may profitably consider extending the distribution
of educations so that it will reach all those who crave and de-
serve it. Churches may profitably consider the further develop-
ment of activities in which they are already engaged. They can
increase their support of welfare work, they should maintain
a well-balanced budget to provide for the upkeep of the church
buildings, the minister, good music, overhead expenses, and
charity; there should be a consolidation of churches; the in-
creased promotion of spiritual life should be their prime con-
cern. If a church fulfills this duty it cannot help but improve
Political parties should agree to support and keep out of
LOOKING AHEAD 271
politics the impartial recommendations of experts in public
health, education, recreation, prevention of crime, prevention
of poverty, and general welfare.
Business men and manufactures can do much to improve a
city. If they pay low wages, it will handicap the schools,
churches and clubs. Businessmen should be honest and should
protect their customers from paying for lies, flattery, false hopes,
and deceptive advertising.
In order that a city may remain in a high level, citizens
must constantly keep before them the following: 1. How many
babies born in the community die during their first year?
2. How many of the boys and girls at 16 or 17 years attend
school? 3. How many of its people own their own homes?
4. How fully are the homes provided with electricity? 5. How
many have telephone services? 6. How general is illiteracy?
7. How much crime is there? 8. How many of the homes are
worth less than $1500, or rent for less than $15 per month?
9. How much is spent for teachers' salaries (per capita)? 10.
How well are the residents protected against communicable
diseases? Every good citizen must always resolve to do every-
thing within his power to improve his community in each of
the above mentioned. He must also help in seeing to its clean-
liness, beauty, health, order, leisure, and security.
It is our solemn duty to transmit the city to the coming gen-
erations more beautiful than it was transmitted to us. Let us
remember that all the good the past has had, remains to make
our own time glad. When we build, therefore, let us think
we are building forever; let it not be for present delight, nor
for present use alone; let it be such work as our descendents
will be grateful for. Let us think, as we lay stone on stone, that
a time is to come, when those stones will be held sacred be-
cause our hands have touched them, and that men will say
as they look upon the labor and the wrought substance of them,
"This our fathers did for us."
Arnold, Joseph I.,
Challenges to American Yotith,
Row Peterson & Company 1940
Barnes, Ham' Elmer,
Society in Trandtion^
New York, N. Y.
Beuckman, Frederic, Rev.,
History of the Dioce'ie of Belle-
Buechler Printing Co., 1919
Brink and McDonough,
IJi'itory of St. Clair County,
Brink,' McDonough Co., 1881
HoUman, Frank and John,
Atlas of St. Clair County,
Buechler Publishing Co., 1936
Lohman, Karl B.,
A Community-Planning Primer
University of Illinois 1935
McCormack, Thomas J.,
Memoirs of Grtstave Koerner
Vol I & 2,
The Torch Press. 1909
Capen and Melchior,
My Worth to the World,
American Book Co., 1937
Dodd and Dodd,
Government in Illinois,
University of Chicago Press,
The Historical and Business Re-
view of the City of Belleville,
Included in Hollands Belleville
City Directory for 1868-1869,
Webster Publishing Co., 1869
Ried, J. A.,
Greater Belleville, The,
Ried Publishing Co.,
Chamber of Commerce of the
Balanced Rebuilding of Cities,
Washington, D. C. 1937
Thomdike, E. L.,
144 Smaller Cities,
Harcourt Brace & Co.
New York, N. Y.
W. P. A. of Illinois,
Americaiu Guide Series,
Sponsored hy Henry Horner,
A. C. McClurg & Co. 1939
Chamber of Commerce,
Industrial Survey of Belleville,
Belleville, Illinois 1927
Chamber of Commerce,
Industrial Analysis of Belleville,
Belleville, Illinois 1948
Illinois Planning Commission,
Looking ahead with Illinois
Cities and Villages,
Chicago, Illinois 1937
Belleville Daily Advocate Cen-
October 25, 1939
U. S. Chamber of Commerce,
Opportimities for City Planning,
Washington, D. C. 1934
St. Clair County Centennial Edi-
October 5, 1941
St. Louis. Missouri
Butts, L. A.,
Evolution of Belleville Puhlic
Washington University 1931
St. Louis, Missouri
Petty, Alvin French,
Economic Geography of Belle-
Washington, D.C. 1939
St. Louis, Missouri
Abend, Edward 57, 83, 85, 106
Abend, Henry 57
Abend, Joseph 57
Abend, Lena 32
Ackerman, John 198
Adams, John Quincy 59
Advocafe, location of 245
Afflect, Benjamin Franklin 97
Afflecf, James 130
Agricultural Products 184, 185
Alexander, H. A. 92
Althoff, William 116
Althoff, Rt. Rev. H. 128, 129, 135,
American Bottoms 105, 107
American Legion 239
American Notes 253
Andel, Col. Casimier 86
Anderson, Abraham 121
Andrew, James 9
Annual rainfall 261
Aristocratic School 38
Armstrong, C. A. 207
Arnold, Cyril 245
Automobile Regulations 95, 96
Avia Field 229
Bader, Frank 111
Boer Brothers 189
Baker, Jehu 63, 71, 74, 244
Baker, Margaret 74
Baker, William 74
Bakeries 188, 191
Baldree, C. E., Dr., 45
Boll, Champness 103
Balloon, travel 97, 98
Banks of Belleville 193, 194
Baseball player from Belleville 203
Bauer Brothers 147, 179
Bauer, G. L., Dr., 45
Baoman, Charles, Dr., 45
Beard, William A. 25
Bechtold, August, Dr., 44
Bechtold, Edmond, Dr., 44
Bechtold, John, Dr., 44
Bechtold, Louis J., Dr., 44
Becker, Charles 62
Bedwell, James W. 100,
Beese, David 115
Bell, Robert 115
Belleville Academy 38
Belleville Casket Company 183
Belleville City Railway 92
Belleville Coal Analyzed 243
Belleville Daily Advocate 244
Belleville Daily News-Democrat 245
Belleville Fair Grounds 258
Belleville House 89, 255
Belleville Incorporated 1850, 248
Belleville, J. D., Dr. 45
Belleville Literary Society 139
Belleville Public Library 77, 122, 123,
Belleville Saengerbund and Library
Belleville Post 248
Belleville Shoe Factory 182
Belleville-Smithton Rood 97
Belleville Township High School 69
Bellevue Park 216, 217
Bennett, Jerry 3
Bennett, Timothy 48
Benton, Thomas Hart 49, 59
Berchelmann, Dr. Adolph 42, 43, 153
Biggs, William 9
Billing, Joseph 32
Bischof, Jacob, Sr., 118
Bischoff, L. A., Dr., 45
Beske, Arthur, Dr., 45
BIssell, Mrs. Elizabeth 69
Bissell, William H. 62, 68, 69, 253
Black Hawk War 73, 74, 236
Blair, George 22, 48, 67, 118, 119
Blue Goose Motor Coach Co. 99
Board of Education 147, 149, 206
Board of Public Works 65
Boelte, Miss Marie 141
Bond, Shadrach 13
Boneau, Ben 247
Bornman, Conrad 83
Breese, Judge 59, 60
Breitwieser, Arnold 100
Brethauer, H. A., Dr., 45
Breweries 164, 166
Brick, early use 255
Brickyard operators 172
Brodt, S. E. 97
Brooks, Rev. John B. 39
Brosius, Geiss Co. 169, 170
Brosius, Jacob 80, 81
Brosius, John 209
Bfownlie, Arthur R., Dr., 45
Brua, Henry 140
Bruss, Fred 111
Bryan, William Jennings 251
Buchonan, William 169
Budde, Rev. F. B. 136
Budweiser Garden 256
Buechler, Albert 188
Buechler, Joseph 188
Boesch, Arthur 257
Buechler Printing Co. 188
Building Committee, St. Peters 128
Building Contractors 120
Bunsen, George 41, 78, 79, 137, 152
Burcl.ardt, H. 170
Burnett, James 206
Burns, Frank S. 198
Busch, Adolphus 173
Business establishements 195, 198
Butzinger, Raymond 115
Bott, Frank 115
Bowdern, Rev. Thomas 158
Eoyakin, William F. 246
Boyd, James L. 242
Brauer, Eugene 102, 103
Braun, Charles 111
Braunersreuther, William 238
Cahokias-lndian tribe 1
Cains, Jacob 23
Cornfield, Emma 32
Canning Companies 182
Carlin, Gov. Theo. 153
Carriage Works 189, 190
Cartwright, Alexander 201
Case, Col. W. 37
Case Company, J. I. 182, 183
Cathedral High School 136
Catholic families, early 127
Centerville Avenue 56
Central School 146
Chamber of Commerce 185, 216
Chambers, Nathan 23
Chandler, S. B. 117
Chapman, Elijah 160
Cliouinard, John 111
Churches today 123, 126, 177
Cigar Manufacturers 163
Circuit Riders 130
Citizens duty 271
City Council 110, 113
City Hall 72
City official salaries in 1844, 249
City officials today 250
City Superintendents 143
City Park Garden 256
City Park Theatre 251
Civic Investment Trust association 183,
Civic Organizations 213, 214
Civil War 74, 77, 85, 237
Clark Brothers 94
Clark, George Rogers 5, 7, 236
Clark, T. C. 244
Clay, Henry 58, 60
Cleaning and Dying establishment
Clinton Hill 37, 63, 64
Clyne, Arthur A., Dr., 45
Coal discovered 242, 243
Cool Oil inspector 249
Coal production 242
Cody, William 251
Coghlan, Joseph B. 238
Communications school 234
Communify, definition of 262 Early Hotels 255
Conroy, C. R., Dr., 45 Early politics 258
Continental Army 5 East St. Louis and Interurban Railway
Cook, Daniel P. 49 99
Correspondence school 235 East St. Louis - Settlement 5
Coulter, James S. 244 East St. Louis and Suburban Railway
County Home 256 Company 93, 94, 96, 99
Court House 3, 118 Ebsen, Christian L. 257
Cox and Roberts 168 Eckert, George 256
Crocker, Earl 100 Eddy Paper Corporation 183, 184
Cron-thal 80 Edgar, John 11
Crow, Leslie 245 Edwards, Charles 39
Crown Mill 161, 162 Edwards, Ninian 23, 48, 55, 62, 64,
Curtis biplane 98 65, 67, 69
Custis, Martha 5 Edwards party 65
Edwards party, anti 65
D Ehret, Henry 176
Eimer, Charles 32
Daab, Fred 32 Eimer, Simon 53, 165, 256
Daehnerf, C. 134 Election 1840, 251
Daesch, Raymond 111 Elks Club 260
Daily Advocate 71 Elliot Liquor Store 58
Daughters of American Revolution 69 Ellis, C. P. 40
Davis, Irvin W., Dr., 45 Engelmonn, Adolph 5>7 , 103
Davis, Jefferson 68 Engelmann, Friedrich 83
Dawes, Alexander G. 245 Engelmann, George, Dr., 57
Day, John A. 93, 172 Engelmann, Sophie 58
Day Line 93 Engelmann, Theo. 152
Debs, Eugene 254 Enochs, Issoc 23
Decker, Wilhelm 153 Erhardt, William 40
Deep Wells 106 Esler and Ropiquet Co. 169
Deknent, Charles 110 Esfes, Dr., 48
Denlinger, William 246 Estes, James P. 100, 103
Dennis, John H. 39, 62, 71 Evans, Fred E. 245
Deobold, Henry C. 95 Eversull, Rev. Dr. Frank 124
DeSoto 1 Eyman, Abraham 21
Dexheimer, Herbert, Dr., 45
Dickens, Charles 59, 263 F
Dietz, George 174
Differences in Cities 262, 265 Falcetti, Edward 111
Dobson, Reese 115 Fallon, Rev. Msgr. John F. 129, n.5
Duvall, R. E. Mayor 96, 97 Family names 260
Doctor fees 44 Farmer, Orena 148
Dog catcher 249 Feder, N. H., Dr., 45
Douglas, Stephen A. 60, 61, 254 Federal Barge Line 100
Dress plants 183 Feickert's Bakery 121, 188
Dunne, Edward F. 259 Fellner, Peter 192, 193
Ferguson, Mrs. B. H. 147
E Fincke, Miss Ruth 149
Finklein, John 111
Eads Bridge 91, 102 Fike, Nathan 48
Eads, James B. 39 Fire Department 108, 111
Eagle Foundry 175, 176 Fire prevention week 111
First Church of Christ Scientist 121
First coal mine 243
First County Fair 257
First traffic tragedy 259
Flock, Max 202
Flannery, James 9
Fleischbein, Adolph G. 202
Fleischbein, Jacob 82, 164
Fleming, Edward 244
Fleming, P. K. 51
Fleming, Robert K. 244
Fleming, William 244
Fletcher, Art 202
Flickinger, Rev. William 132
Florists of Belleville 190, 191
Football players 204, 205
Fort Chartres 4
Fouke, Jacob 90
Fouke, Phillip B. 40
Fouke, Philip S. 69, 244
Foundries 166, 167, 175, 178
Frank, W, 140
Franklin School 140
Frons, J. 140
Fraternal Organizations 213
Freeburg Avenue 56
French - education, etc. 3
French and Indian War 4
Friedii, F. J. 148, 203, 207
Frontier life and dress 17, 20
Gallaher, Rev. James 131
Gallup, William 37
Geissener Immigration Association 78
Geist, Jacob 80
General Headquarters of Air Forces
Germans, early 85, 86
German immigrants 57, 75
German Library Society 77
German pioneers 86
Glen Addie 65
Goedeking, Henry 26, 40
Goforth, William Gale, Dr., 43
Good citizens, value of 270
Good Roads Booster Club 97
Gooding, Cornelius 25
Grade schools 141, 143
Grant, Ulysses S. 61, 71, 237
Gratiot, Charles 42
Graul, Miss Mary 126
Graves, Richard 103
Great Western Mail Route 101
Green, Joseph, Dr., 43
Groom, Bob 202
Groom, Charles 115
Growing season 261
Gruenewald, Monsignor M. J. 129,
Gundloch Machine Works 174
Gundlach, Philip M. 167, 168
Hackenbruch, Emil 111
Haines, W. F., Dr., 45
Halberf, R. A. 246
Hall, Dr. Hal O. 148
Hancock, Dr., 43
Hangar, first 231
Harper, L. C. 96
Harpstreits, Ted 207
Harrison, Charles 32
Harrison, Hugh 32, 168
Harrison, Theophilus 169
Harrison, Thomas 46, 161, 253
Harrison, William Henry 11
Hart, Frank 111
Hartman Brothers 50
Harvey, G. A. 246
Haskins, Jack T., Dr., 45
Hassoll, Clarence 115
Howes, F. M. 245
Hoy, John 23, 25, 72, 73, 103
Heothcothe, Cliff 202, 203
Hecker, Colonel Frederich 2, 4
Heiligenstein, P. C, Dr., 45
Heinfelden, Curt 157, 246
Heinzelman, A. C. 109
Heinzelman Brothers 130
Heinzelman, George 109
Heinemonn, Henry A. 118
Hempel, C. R. Rev. 97
Henke, Ewold 111
Henkemeyer Cigar Factory 181, 182
Henkemeyer, Martin 164
Hepp, Eugene G. 149
Hertel, Charles 27
Herzler and Henniger Machine Works
Hess, William 110
High School teachers 148
Highway Thirteen 99
Hildenbrandt, J. C. 153
Hilgard, Edouard 152
Hilgard, Frifz, Sr., 152
Hilgard, George E. 239
Hilgard, Theodore 81, 82, 152
Hilgard, Offo 153
Hinckley, Maria 72
Hinckley, Russell 161, 193
Hock, Edword 111
Hodo, Monroe 115
Hoeffken Brothers 179
Hoffmann, George Engelbert 21, 64
Holcomb, Clarence 111
Home Circle 32
Homeier, William 248
Horseless carriage 94, 95
Hotel Belleville 255
Hotel, National 48
Hough, C. R., Dr., 45
How to improve our city 267
Huber Family 127
Hughes, James W. 85, 103
Hughes, Sheriff John D. 26
Hume, William 134
Hundredth anniversary 259
Ice Companies 192
Illinois 12, 13, 242
Illinois Central 99
Illinois - Settlement of 1
Illinois Territory 11
Illinois Fire Company 108
Illinois volunteers 109
Imbs, J. F, 162
Imbs Milling Company 161, 178
Importance of City planning 267
Industries 186, 187
Ingersoll, Robert G. 251
Ingram, Rev. James V. 133
Intelligencer Blatt 248
Irwin, Dr., Edward M. 257
Isselhard, R. M., Dr., 45
Ittner, Anthony 172, 173
Jaeckel, Fred, Dr., 45
Janis, Professor 98
Jansen, Bishop John 129
Jeffrey, Oscar 115
Johnson, Fred 115
Johnson, Pearl 148
Johnson, Preston K. 245
Johnson, Richard M. 251, 252
Johnson, Sir William 5
Joliet, Louis 2, 4, 6
Jones, Rogers D. 240
Joseph, Oliver 208
Joseph, R. J., Dr., 45
Joyce, Professor 98
Julleis, Edward 245
Junior High School 143
Kaltenbrown, Herbert 115
Kansas - Nebraska Bill 70
Karch, John 148
Korstens, Wallace C, Dr., 45
Kaskaskia 12, 64
Kaskaskia - Indians 1
Kaskaskia - Settlement 3
Kaufmann, Herbert 150
Koye, Raymond J., Dr., 45
Kellermann, Gustav 154
Kempff, Louis 238
Kensinger, Richard 111
Kern, Fred J. 118, 247
Kerr, Joseph 49
Kimball, G. F. 245
Kimber, T. H. 131
Kindergarten Association 140
Kindergarten Private School 38
Kinsen, E. P. Captain 97
Kinney, William 64, 65, 69
Kircher, Joseph 154
Kirkwood, Andrew 115
Klemme, Gottlieb 176
Klincar, Paul 115
Kloess Brick Company 175
Klotz, Philip 111
Kluge, Emil 115
Knab, Fanny 32
Knispel Lake 257
Knobelock, Thomas 170
Koehler, Rev. B. J. 133
Koerner, Gustav 57, 63, 69, 91, 152,
154, 157, 220, 259
Koerner, Mrs. Gustav 141, 147
Kohl, Emil J. 128
Kohl, George 128
Kraft, F. W. 247, 248
Kraft, Theodore J. 140, 154, 217
Krimmel, Louis 169
Kroenig, Milton 115
Kubitschek, John D., Dr., 45
Kuensfer, Rev. Joseph 127
Kuhn, F. AA., Dr., 45
Kurrus, Richard 115
Lobor Unions 198, 200
Lofayelte, General 251
loke Christine 106
lake Lorraine 106
lambrechf, A. 94
lange, H. L., Dr., 45
Lanmann, Everett, Dr., 45
La Salle 2
Latin Peasants 82
Lawrence, George 115
Lebanon Avenue 56
Lebanon - Silver Ore 3
Le Clerc College 136
Le Coq, Sophie 79
Ledergetber, Joseph 153
lee. Rev. J. W. 129
Lehman, Elmer 115
Lehr, Jacob 40
Lemen, James Rev. 21, 23, 130
Leunig, I. A. Jr., Dr., 45
Leunig, I. A. Sr„ Dr, 45
Liederkranz Hall 32
Liederkranz Society 211
lienesch, John Thomas 65
Liese Lumber Company 180
Lincoln, Abraham 61, 77, 251, 254,
Lincoln Hotel 39, 72
Lincoln School 140
Lincoln Theater 51
List, Clarence 111
log Cabin 28, 29
Logan, General John A. 61
Looking Glass Prairie 253
lorey. Miss Johanna 142
lorey, William 40
Louisville and Nashville 99
Lucky, Enoch 87
luthern Church School 38
Lyon, Annie 63, 64
Lyon, Matthew 21, 63
Magin, Walter 115
Mangelsdort, Rev. 136
Mann, Horace 150
Manring, Clarence A. 149
Mansion House 51, 253
Marquette, Jacques 2, 4, 6
Market House 117, 118, 248
Marshall, Thomas R. 251
Martin, C. L., Dr., 45
Martin, G. R., Dr., 45
Mascoufah Avenue 56
Mascoufah Plank Road 257
Mass, first 127
Matfison, Governor 79
Mayors of Belleville 250
McBride, William J. 253
McCarty, Richard 5
McClintock, William 37
McClurc, Samuel 9
McCullough, J. J., Dr., 45
McEvers, Williams 115
McLaughlin, Robert 54, 55
McRogers, George 32
Mears, William 54, 55
Medicine Mon 41, 42
Melrose, James, Dr., 43
Memorial Fountain 215, 216
Merck, Karl, Sr., 187
Mertens, William, Jr., 115
Mertens, William, Sr. 115
Merritt, James W. 244
Merritt, Wesley 238
Messenger, John 21, 23, 37, 62, 65
Metchigans - Indian tribes 1
Mexican War 68, 71, 74, 237
Meyer, Rev. Charles 127
Meyer, George E., Dr., 45, 149
Meyer, Joseph 127
Meyer Pants Company 182
Middiecoff, Frank 169
Miller, Rev. Joseph 129
Miller, Percy 115
Miller, Wallace 115
Million, Henry L. 256
Millitizer, Henry G. 103
Ministers today 125, 126
Minor Construction Company 179
Mississippi River 100, 102, 105, 107
Missouri River 100
Mitchell, James 62, 71, 103, 117
Mitchell, William, Sr., 43
Model School 57. 58
Mo«ssinr)cr, Fred 115
Monk, C. A. 130
Monks Mound 10
Montague, E. J. 245
Mooring Mast 231
Morning Record 248
AAorrison, Col. J. I. D. 65, 69, 85,
Mueller. William 21
Mullett, Clarence 115
Music in Belleville 209, 212
Nofzigcr, Fred 207
Noil Mills 171, 172, 180, 181
National Hotel 51
Nebgen, Albert 111
Needles, Jos. H., Dr., 45
Nehrkorn, Mrs. Dorothy 142
Nesbit, Francis W., Dr., 45
Neuhoff, A. D., Dr., 45
Neuhoff House 252
New Design 37
New Madrid earthquake 18
News-Democrat, early location 246,
Nlles, Nathaniel 70, 71, 244
Noble, William D. 25
Norbet, Paul, Dr., 45
Northwest Territory 8
Noted visitors 251
Notre Dame Academy 135, 136
Parent-Tcochers Association 213
Paro, H. G. 209
Paule, Hugo 115
Paxon, James 1 1 1
Peck, Rev. J. M. 131
Pensoneau, Elienne 48
Peoria Indians 1
Perrin, Frank N. 80
Perrin, J. Nick 67
Pestalozzi, Father 78, 79
Peters, Elmer 149
Phillips, George I. 94
Phillips, Rev. Russell 124
Piggot, Captain James 87
Pinet, Father 2
Pioneer dress 29, 31
Pioneer social life 31, 33
Police deportment 111, 115
Poniske, Melvin 1 15
Pontiac 5, 251
Pope, Nathaniel 12
Portland Cement Association 97
Portuondo, Miss Sylvia 147
Post office 102, 104
Postal Rates 100, 101
Prairie Du Pont 4
Presbyterian Church, eafly 122
Priester, Frank 216
Priester's Park 216
Primm, John 21
Proclamation of 1763 4, 8
Public Square 25, 77
Purple Swan Coach Co. 99
Oakland Foundry 176, 177
O'Brien, John 127
Ochs, F. A., Dr., 45
Odd Fellow Building 72
Ogle, Benjamin 9
Ogle, Joseph 9
Ogle, Samuel 161
Ogle Station 98
Ohio River 100
Opp, Louis 103
Ostlongenberg, Rev. C. H. 128, 135
Otrich, G. C, Dr., 45
Ottawa Indian tribe 5
Owens, Jewel 148
Quick, Moses 160
Raab, E. P., Dr., 154
Raab, Henry 41, 62, 79, 157
Raab, Mrs. Henry 141
Randall, Peter Wilklns, Dr., 42
Randleman, Martin 21
Rapier, Richard 161
Rauth, E. L, Dr., 45
Rauth, Walter 206
Rayhill, Mrs. Florence 130
Reconstruction Period 70
Record Printing and Advertising Co.
Redman, Jackson 219
Reeb, Phillip 96
Reineke, Mrs. Amelia 127
Reiss, Fred 154
Ries, Rev. J. 128, 132
Renal, Dr., 42
Renault, Phillip 3
Renner, C. P., Dr., 45, 208
Rentchler, Anna 32
Rentchler, Dave 32
Rentchler, Louis 32
Reputation of a city 266
Resch, Frank 111
Residential areas 265
Revolution of 1830, 75
Revolution of 1833, 78
Reuss, Adoiph, Dr., 153
Reynolds, James M. 103
Reynolds, John 25, 49, 60, 62, 66,
67, 69, 85, 88
Rhein, Sophia 212
Richland Creek 48, 105, 106, 160,
161, 169, 225, 226
Richland Mill 174
Riesenberger, Frank 115
Ringold, John 103, 161
RItzheimer, Earl 111
Robertson, D. R., Dr., 45
Rock Road 96, 97, 111
Rodenmeyer, Edward 111
Rodenmeyer, Wilbur 111
Rodenberg, W. A. 118
Rogers, Robert 246
Roman, William, Dr., 43
Rombauer, Mrs. August 147
Rombauer, Edgar 62
Rose, Fred, Dr., 45
Rose, Wm. F., Dr., 45
Roth, L. W., Dr., 45
Rubber Cow 232
Ruebel, Walter 115
Russell, Alexander B. 246
Russell, William J, 247
Rutherford, William 115
Rutz, Edward 62
Sadorf, Frank 192
Saucier, Francois 3
Sauer, Robert 1 1 1
Sargent, Charles 103
St. Clair, Gen. Arthur 10
St. Clair County 10, 11
St. Clair County Agricultural Society
St. Clair County Fair 258
St. Clair County Court House 119, 120
St. Clair County Turnpike 93
St. Clair Gazette 244
St. Clair Tribune 72
St. Clair Volunteers 109
St. Elizabeth's Hospital 157, 158, 159
St. Henry's College 136
St. John's Orphanage 65
St. Louis - Settlement 5
St. Louis Turnpike 84
St. Paul's Church 38, 132
St. Peter's Cathedral 127, 129
St. Peter's Sand 105
Schaefer, Edwin M. 232
Scheel, John 57, 253
Scheve, Julius 152
Schiller, Edward 245
Schilling, A. D., Dr., 45
Schlesinger, Norman 111
Schlott, William 176
Schmidt, A! R. 245
Schmidt, H. G. 147, 148, 207
Schmitt, Mrs. Phillip 127
Schmitz, Erwin 111
Schmitz, Floyd 111
Schools 34, 41
Schatt, Anton, Dr., 152, 157
Schroder, Henry C. G. 142
Schwarz, Hanz 248
Schwind, Herbert 215
Scott Field 103, 104
Scott Field, Commander of 230
Scott Field, completness of 235
Scott Field, construction of 229
Scott Field, measles at 230
Scott Field, named 229
Scott Field, need for 229
Scott Field road 232
Scott Field saved 232
Scott, Jasper 169
Scott, Joseph 67, 68
Scoft, William Jr., 23
Sears, Roebuck 96
Sehlinger, Anfon 173, 174
Seller, Emil 111
Semmelrofh, August 188
Semmelrolh, Herman 103
Settlers from Virginia 75
Seven years' war 4
Shenandoah dirigible 231
Shepherd, Elihu 38
Shields, James 62, 70, 73, 74
Shoal Creek 101
Short, Jacob 23, 48
Shoupe, W. H. 246
Sickman, Theodore 126
Silver Creek 48
Silver ore 3
Simonin, Norman 115
Sintzel, A. R., Dr., 45
Slade, James P. 62, 72, 254
Small pox 44
Smith, Dr., 42
Smith, John 115
Snyder, Adam W. 54, 55, 257
Snyder, William 103
Snyder, Mrs. William H. 141
Sopp, Philip H. 103
Southern Roilroad 99
Spanish - American War 238
Sparks, Jared 152, 153
Star Brewery Park 257
State Militia of Illinois 73
Staufenbiel, Mrs. F. J. 154
Stein, Ernst 150
Steingoetter, Mrs. Bessie 142
Sterling, Miss Ruth 142
Sterthman, Raymond 115
Steuernagel, Bella 156
Stoelzle, Fidel 165
Stolberg, George P. 257
Sfolberg Lake 257
Stolle, Anna L. 245
Stookey, Daniel 62
Strauss, J. B. 93
Streck Brothers 181
Stuart, A. C. 54
Stuart, Alphonso C. 48
Stuart, E. R. 246
Swift, Professor L. 132
Tabor, Hubert 205
Taft, William H. 251
Togeblatt Und Arbeiter Zeitung 248
Tammarois - Indian tribe 1
Tannehill, James 51
Tannehill Hotel 48
Tannehill, Raechel 48, 162, 163
Taylor, Francis M. 103
Teachers, early 138
Telephone Companies 191, 192
Tennis at B.T.H.S. 207
Territory of Illinois 7
Territorial Post Office 100
Teter, John 62
Thebus, John 118
Thespian Club 211
Thomas, John E. 103, 117, 245
Thomas, J. H. 245
Thomas, Colonel John 73
Thompson, Amos 208
Thompson, Cyrus 73, 103, 118, 169,
Thompson, Fred 1 1 1
Thome, Russell 150
Tisch Monument Works 184
Todd, John 7
Torch Light Parade 259
Tornado of 1938, 228
Towers, Al 199
Transylvania University 58
Trap shooting 203
Treaty of Paris 4, 7
Treu Bund 248
Trumbull, George 84
Trumbull, Lyman 62, 69, 84, 259
Turkey Hill 137
Turner Society 257
Twain, Mark 253
Twitchell, B. E., Dr., 44
Twilchell, Standlee, Dr., 44, 45
Turner, William 38
Tyndale, Sharon 103
Undertaking establishments 190
Underwood, Joseph B. 71
Underwood, William H. 71
Underwood, William J. 246
Union Fire Company 109
Vollis, John 9
Van Cleve, Collins 245
Variation in living costs 266
Veterans of Foreign Wars 239
Vicksburg, battle of 71
Village Board 108, 109
Volunteer Fire Company No. 2 109
Von Lengerke, Matilda 79
V/addel, David 9
Wade, John 111
Wagner, A. W., Dr., 254
Wagner, M. W., Dr., 45
Wallace, Henry 251
Walta, Robert 111
Walton, W. H., Dr., 45
Wangelin, Evans H., Dr., 44
Wangelin, Herman G. 80, 102, 103
Wangelin, Colonel Hugo 102, 103
Wangelin, Hugo E., Dr., 44
Wangelin, Irwin H. 102, 103
War of 1812, 47, 236
Washington, George 5
Washington School 140
Water system 103, 108
Water Tower Hill 107
Waugh Mills 171
Weber, Herman G. 106, 155
Weber, John 142
Weeden, T. C. 245
Wehrle, Fredericka 126
Weingaertner, Jacob 154
Weir, M. W. 127
Weir, Sophie 127
Wellinghoff, J. L. 100
West Belleville 226, 227
West, B. J. 62
West, Jr., Washington, Dr., 44
Westhaven Swimming Pool 257
Wheeler, J. E., Dr., 45
White, Charles O., Dr., 45
White, James 9
Whiteside, Jacob 161
Whiteside, Captain William 9, 66
Whiteside, Uel 10
Wick, Bernard 154
Wiggins Ferry Company 87
Wilbret, C. L., Dr., 45
Wilbret, M. E., Dr., 45
Wilderman, M. N., Dr., 45
Wilding, Peter 85
Wilkie, Wendell 251
Wilkinson, Ed. P. 25
Wilkinson, Edmond 161
Willard, Francis 259
Willoughby, James A. 245
Willoughby, James B. 32, 103
Wilson, C. S., Dr., 45
Wilson, Edward 111
Winkler, T. J., Dr., 45
Wold, Fritz A. 152
Wolf, Herman 152
Woodworth, Charles, Dr., 43
Wolleson, Mr. A. M. 155, 156
Women's Christian Temperance Union
Women's Temperance Union 259
Wood, Leonard W., General 251
Woods, John 245
World War I, 77, 238
World War II, 239
Wrestling at B.T.H.S. 207
Wright, Rev. J. G. 134
Wright, John 256
Wyott David 27
Zeiler, Aaron 163, 164
Zeitung Und Stern 248
Zinser, Emil 111